In an attempt to provide another viewpoint, one that is just as valid and doable as other approaches posted, I believe endeavoring to work with a paper without adding size, especially those incorporating formalin or glutaraldehyde, is exactly where a beginner should start. It's one less step in the process, one less variable, one less set of safety precautions which need to be followed, less expense and less time. The key is to find pigments which will wash cleanly from the chosen paper.
All of those factors and more, in my opinion and with all due respect, help to make this approach quite “doable” for anyone. Here in the Dallas area, it’s great fun to both demonstrate and assist upper elementary (5th/6th graders) students in making gum prints. Other than the dichromate, there are no additional chemicals for which to exercise precautions. Using non-staining pigments (i.e. pigments which do not stain the chosen paper, usually a Fabriano paper), the students can easily make fantastic prints with wonderful definition and contrast. With this approach it is also quite easy to teach staining and non-staining principles and effects.
As for paper shrinking, papers manufactured with AKD are very robust and will maintain their excellent sizing properties even after a prolonged soaking—in fact, even after many, many prolonged soakings.
Making the decision to add supplemental size can always come later. Let me emphasize that there are valid reasons to use supplemental size—that is a fact. However, the only point I wish to make is that exhibition and gallery quality gum prints can be made on paper without the application of supplemental size—and it’s really not as difficult as one would imagine.
P.S. I don't believe the original poster mentioned gum over platinum—not a process for someone starting out, in my view. If he did, then I would defer to others for additional comment.
Last edited by pjbtx; 10-21-2009 at 10:43 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I'd like to add vote of support for gum printing on Fabriano Artistico without additional sizing. I only gave it a try about a month ago and I was very pleasantly surprised by how little shrinkage and staining there is. I didn't even bother to pre-shrink. For the last two years I have printed gum over handmade silver gelatin paper, and my assumptions about gum in general have come from those experiences. 'Silvergum' shrinks a lot and I've recently come to the conclusion that it is the gelatin emulsion that is shrinking and not so much the paper itself.
So... a question for folks with a broader experience with gum than I have: Is it possible that too much is being done to the paper before the first gum layer actually goes down? (And, of course, I'm only addressing Fabriano here.) If the pre-shrinking step is mainly serving to remove Fabriano's internal sizing, and then following that step, a hardened gelatin sizing is being applied that itself shrinks, is all the extra work just serving to make matters worse, not to mention more complicated?
My apologies if this has been extensively covered somewhere else. There's so much gum info out in the world and so much of it seems to be anecdotal, it's hard to always to know what's what. I've just written a tutorial about silvergum printing for my website. I talk a bit about gum on plain Fabriano, but my personal experience is limited. I don't want to mislead anyone through over-simplification, but it does seem that printing on plain Fabriano is a wonderfully simple proposition.
Well, not that I think I have a broader experience with gum than you, nevertheless I wanted to mention that I don't find Fabriano Artistico usable without additional sizing (whether I preshrink or not) and also I don't find the paper much dimensionally stable. (Again, whether I preshrink and/or size or not...) I use the 300gsm (140lb?) version BTW. (Both old Fabriano Artistico / new Fabriano Artistico Traditional White and new Fabriano Artistio Extra White.)
Therefore, I think it depends... (On particular materials / working conditions and procedure.) I may elaborate later if you need.
OTOH, I still think Fabriano Artistico is one of the best papers around for gum printing.
Originally Posted by dwross
BTW, in my understanding, preshrinking is not done to "remove the paper's internal sizing" (that's something we absolutely don't want to do) but to relax the paper's fibers as much as possible, in order to "reset" their position/orientation, letting them to reorganize in a pretty similar fashion in the subsequent development baths, for better dimensional stability. Also, preshrinking raise the paper's nap a little bit which is good for adhesion of gum emulsion. (Significant for the first layer only; subsequent layers will have a paper with raised nap after the first development bath whether you preshrink or not.)
Originally Posted by dwross
Last edited by Loris Medici; 10-26-2009 at 04:45 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: typo correction
Thank you, Loris, for the excellent info. (And your opinions about gum carry a lot of weight with me.) My thought on removing the internal sizing was that it might be happening without being the intended purpose of a pre-soak. I agree, that wouldn't be a good thing. I don't know enough about what 'internal sizing' is. Perhaps it can't be washed out, at least not easily. It's obvious I need to study up on the ins and outs of paper.
I'll have to pay closer attention to paper nap next time I print. I haven't had adhesion problems on my first layers, but you've convinced me to experiment with pre-shrinking, and I'll also go back and study the threads about external sizing.
Thank you very much,
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In my experience, Fabriano Artistico (both extra white and traditional) is quite stable in that shrinkage is bit less than other papers I use. Remember—papers such as those are 100% cotton and will shrink after becoming wet—just like laundry! The larger the sheet/image you print, the more noticeable the shrinkage will appear. It's just one of many factors to deal with in gum printing.
Paper sized by the manufacturer with AKD (such as Fabriano) are my first choice of papers for gum printing. AKD (in essence an emulsified wax) migrates into the paper and forms a bond that is difficult to remove even after repeated soaking and washing—so don't worry about losing your AKD sizing when presoaking the paper. Yes, the surface of the paper will become just a bit rougher as a result. If that is a major concern to you, then adding supplemental size to recreate a smooth surface might need to be considered. Supplemental size would also be a consideration if you require a very broad range of pigment choices.
Otherwise, simply locate pigments which will not stain the paper if you wish to have images with contrast and definition. Of course, that may take a bit of leg work on your part—but not any more than the leg work required to learn and manage supplemental sizing techniques, especially those mentioned in previous posts. I think you will find AKD papers will provide you with a larger selection of non-staining pigments than papers sized by the manufacturer with other materials.
Hope that helps.
Last edited by pjbtx; 10-26-2009 at 10:43 AM. Click to view previous post history.
the reason why p. blackburn loves the paper so much, is because its size is based on AKD. iirc the substance is considered a wax and should be insoluble in water. so it don't think it can wash off in the preshrink bath.
Originally Posted by Loris Medici
here is a little info on the substance i just found:
i think someone recently mentioned that the substance is also available in bottles and could be used as a paper size. i don't think many people have tried this so far. could be worth some experimentation.
ah, sorry, looks like pjbtx already said most of that. i must have skipped his post when reading this page.
Originally Posted by phritz phantom
I'm P. Blackburn, aka pjbtx, aka Peter J. Blackburn. Yes, the waxy characteristic of AKD prevents it from easily washing away. It's easy to forget that it acts as a wax since in a paper formulation is dosen't seem to feel at all as wax.
ah good to know and to have such a respected source available.
Originally Posted by pjbtx
i already suspected it after reading your first post in this thread, but wasn't sure whether it was a signature or the source for the citation of the article. ... then i forgot about it again.
Thanks Phritz for the kind words. I hope BarryS has received some ideas for how to proceed with his gum work. He certainly has been given a lot of choices. That's one of the great aspects of gum printing—all the creative choices and how one picks and chooses from them to create unique and wonderful images.
Speaking of which, Phritz, I believe I've seen some of your images, of children if I recall correctly, on another forum. Wonderful, gentle interpretations!
As for Denise, all I can say in response to your comment, "printing on plain Fabriano is a wonderfully simple proposition"—I wholeheartedly agree and encourage others to try it! But, to each, his or her own. We all have differing preferences, goals, and styles.
My busy schedule keeps me from participating on forums as much as I would like. This has been a light week for me which enabled me to catch BarryS’ post. I couldn't help myself but to give Barry another viewpoint—one that is, in my opinion, seldom expressed.
Cheers to all!
Peter J. Blackburn
Last edited by pjbtx; 10-26-2009 at 03:49 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: added signature