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  1. #1
    Barry S's Avatar
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    Gum printers: what paper and sizing are you using?

    I just started doing some gum printing and have realized how critical the paper and sizing are to the process. The Strathmore Bristol Vellum I successfully use for cyanotype doesn't clear the highlights if unsized and doesn't coat well if sized with diluted matte acrylic medium. I also tried some hot press watercolor paper I had and it didn't work at all. Before I buy some new paper and sizing materials, I'd like to hear what paper and sizing formulas are working for other gum printers--especially papers that don't cost a fortune. Thanks.

  2. #2

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    I use fabriano artistico extra white because it doesn't shrink. I use Gamblin PVA size, diluted 1:2. One or two coats. There are several different types of sizing methods, but I find the PVA easiest and quite effective. I don't think the paper is that critical for gum, the way it is for platinum, etc. For me it's all about the shrinkage, since I do multiple coats.
    Good luck,
    Steve
    www.scdowellphoto.com

  3. #3

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    i think the successful gum printing depends more on the size than the paper. i usually print on the cheapes and smoothest paper available.
    while i've heard about people making prints with a size based on acrylic, for most people (including myself) it doesn't work. the most recommended and well-tested size is gelatin with some kind of hardener. lately the gamblin size, as already mentioned, has a good reputation. i'd rather try that or the gelatin, before buying new paper.
    there is an article on alternativephotography from peter blackburn, who exclusively prints on unsized fabriano.

  4. #4
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I use Rives BFK for paper, and the 250-bloom gelatin from Bostick & Sullivan (get their gum printing kit). They include a different paper (Lana Acquarelle) in their kit (you can order the kit without the paper if you want). The most important criteria in choosing a paper for gum is wet strength and resistance to dimensional change over multiple wet/dry cycles. Rives BFK is well-regarded for these characteristics, as is the Lana Acquarelle. The Lana Acquarelle comes in 2 strengths - 140lb and 300lb. The 300 lb is recommended for doing multiple passes, whereas the 140 is preferred when doing fewer gum layers as it is not as dimensionally stable as the 300lb.
    Last edited by TheFlyingCamera; 10-19-2009 at 03:39 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #5
    Barry S's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions. It sounds like I can find some good candidate papers at the local Pearl art. I'll see if they have some of the Gamblin PVA and maybe I'll test some gelatin too. Can I use chrom alum to harden the gelatin or do I need glyoxal? Seems like I always need to buy one more thing for alt process.

  6. #6
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Glyoxal is a good alternative to formaldeyhde, which is the preferred hardener. For a variety of reasons, the formaldehyde has issues, but it is considered to be the best. Some people report staining issues with the Glyoxal. I've not seen any references to using chrom alum for a hardener, one way or another, so you could give it a try and see what happens.

  7. #7

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    Right now FAEW and glyoxal, in a 3% 250 bloom gelatin. I tried some glutaraldehyde, but couldn't make it harden gelatin at any dilution. Others have reported great success with it, so maybe I just got a bad bottle of it.

    The glyoxal does have a slight yellow hue compared to plain gelatin which is masked somewhat by natural white papers, but much more apparent with bright white stock. I wash the sized papers in warm water after dry and it helps alot, but it is an extra step. I'm going to try some formalin next. But glyoxal works well- cures fast, the highlights clear easily, isn't as noxious to handle, etc.

    I've heard that chrome alum leaves a distinct blue cast to the paper, and it takes several days to cure properly.

  8. #8
    Jeremy's Avatar
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    Rives BFK, Fabriano Artistico EW, and I also use Arches Platine & Cot 320 for gum over palladium prints. I size with Gamblin PVA Size at a range of dilutions depending on effect wanted. I have some new substrates I've been wanting to try, too.
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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  9. #9
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    I use Fab Extra white and Rives BFK (mostly the former). I size with gelatin hardened with formaldehyde. Glyoxal will cause yellowing of the sizing unless you print soon after the sizing is applied. If you let it sit around for a few days or longer, it will yellow. I tried the Gamblin PVA size a few years back, but am not too fond of the surface it leaves. Glut did not work well for me either.
    Kerik Kouklis
    Platinum/Gum/Collodion
    www.kerik.com
    2014 Workshop Schedule Online

  10. #10
    Barry S's Avatar
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    I can't stand the smell of formaldehyde. Too many years in the lab, I guess. Glyoxal and glutaraldehyde are also aldehyde compounds, so I wonder if cinnamaldehyde might work. Better the smell of cinnamon than formalin! The yellowing with glyoxal is a pain. I'd like to size a batch of paper to last a couple months.

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