Albumen and alcohol baths
To those of you that print Albumen: do you use an alcohol bath?
I have been working on a pre-mixed Albumen printing kit, and have found that I don't need to use an alcohol bath to make a good print. No wait, an EXCELLENT print. I've been having fantastic results.
I am using a 20% solution of albumen from powdered egg whites, and a 8% silver nitrate solution.
I have been using heavier papers like COT320 and Platine and get practically flawless coatings with a 5-6 minute float. Anything less and the surface bubbles like crazy. With thinner papers like Crane's Kid Finish 32lb, a 3-4 minute float is enough.
I am getting a nice, thick satin/semi-gloss surface with one coating and no alcohol. I find that a good 4-5 minute float in the silver nitrate bath hardens the albumen so that I can't scratch the surface with my finger nail, no matter how hard I try.
What I'm doing is writing the instruction booklet for the upcoming Albumen kit, and would like to simplify the process as much as possible. If I can eliminate the need for the alcohol bath, I'd like to. So far my own results have shown than there's no need for the alcohol, but I'd like someone to try to convince me otherwise
I agree. I don't use an alcohol bath. The main ways of hardening the albumen are aging, heating or steaming, and the alcohol bath. Any one of the three is sufficient.
I usually make large batches of albumenized paper, so it hardens sufficiently with aging anyway, but I steam the paper to humidify it and make it more pliable before sensitizing, and that also serves the purpose of hardening the albumen, if the paper hasn't aged sufficiently.
Last edited by David A. Goldfarb; 01-31-2010 at 12:51 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I have found that the silver nitrate hardens the Albumen and makes it insoluble. Is this not the case?
I can coat albumen in the morning, then float on silver nitrate in the afternoon without a problem. Is this a symptom of the powedered egg whites? I understand that the protein chains are already broken down in the powdered whites, so there's no need for aging. Does this factor into the quick harndening action as well?
My 'real' chemistry backround is limited, so all of this is new to me.
Aged albumen solution is considered better than fresh, and maybe powdered egg white has a similar effect. I usually use fresh egg whites myself, but the albumen solution ages in the fridge for a while before I get around to coating it, and I'm usually adding new solution to aged solution.
Hardening should produce a better gloss and should prevent the salt from leaching out into the nitrate solution, as I understand it. It's also necessary to harden between coats, if you double coat with albumen, which I usually don't do, but I usually am using thin smooth paper (Strathmore 500 single-ply plate).
I don't use alcohol, either. I use egg whites from the supermarket - they come in a container similar to a quart milk carton. I age the albumn in the fridge for a week or so, then over a period of weeks coat Cranes Kid Finish. I put a stack of the coated, dry paper in my warm dry mount press, then clamp down the press and turn off the heat. That flattens the paper so it easily returns to the box. I then allow it to age in my usually hot Florida home.
I single coat by floating the paper, then use a Richeson brush to sensitize. It would appear there are several ways to successfully make albumen prints.
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