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  1. #1

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    Van Dyke/Argyrotype - Archival Properties 101

    I am sure that this has come up before in various threads but I want to try and pull this together in a 101 format for my small brain.

    I have done some Van Dyke and Argyrotype prints in the past as one off experiments, more than anything. I have, however, a specific project that I want to use one (or maybe both) processes in. I have all the material to mix either solutions and think that I have the right paper (I realise that Argyrotype is far more 'paper sensitive' than VDB but I have Fabriano 5 and Hahnehmule paper which I have used before which seems to work).

    Here is the thing. I would really appreciate someone explaining about the archival qualities of both processes. All the books say that VDB (and Kallitypes generally) are less archival than the Argyrotype and that Kallitypes generally are not as archival and regular silver gelatin prints. Although the literature stetes this, it doesn't expand on what that in practical terms means. I have the following questions that I would really appreciate some assistance with:

    a. I take it at face value that that the iron salt is susceptibile to attack but what does that exactly mean and what affects this attack?

    b. How long is a VDB/argyrotype image likely to last generally? How do I ensure that my prints last as long as possible.

    c. If I sell my work do I run a risk of the image deteriorating quickly?

    d. What effect does toning have? I have read that selenium and gold toning can bleach the image if it is left too long. Can sepia toning work (accepting that all Kallitypes are brown and a further sepia tone may have no effect at all)?

    e. I use a lot of mixed media in my photography including waxing/encaustic waxing my prints, what effect, if any, would coating a VDB/argyrotype print in wax have (in particular would this protect the image from attack or make it worse)?

    I know this is a lot and any help would be greatly appreciated but I really would like to get to the bottom of this, if I can. The last thing I would wish for is to sell some work only to find in a period of time it deteriorates.

    Thanks for taking time to read the thred.

  2. #2

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    My answers to your questions below. They apply to argyrotype, vandyke and kallitpe


    a. I take it at face value that that the iron salt is susceptibile to attack but what does that exactly mean and what affects this attack?

    My answer -- All of these processes have images made up of small silver particles. Small silver particles are much more susceptible to attack from the atmospher than large grain silver particle. Also, there is no protection for these particles because they are on the surface of the paper, or just in the fibers of the paper, not in a gelatin binder.

    b. How long is a VDB/argyrotype image likely to last generally? How do I ensure that my prints last as long as possible?

    If well processed they should last quite a long time, at least a couple of decades if kept in good conditions. If you want them to last as long as possible you must tone them, either with one of the noble metals or sulfite or selenium. An untoned argyroptype is probably more archival than an untoned kallitype or vandyke, but for maximum permanence all three should be toned, and when toned the three processes should have about the same permanence.

    c. If I sell my work do I run a risk of the image deteriorating quickly?

    Yes, if you do not tone it.

    d. What effect does toning have? I have read that selenium and gold toning can bleach the image if it is left too long. Can sepia toning work (accepting that all Kallitypes are brown and a further sepia tone may have no effect at all)?

    The best way to tone IMO is with gold, platinum or palladium before fixing. Selenium toning may be done after fixing and washing but I am not positive that it offers as much stability as toning with the noble metals, which in esssence replace a large percentage of the silver metal with either gold, platinum or palladium.

    e. I use a lot of mixed media in my photography including waxing/encaustic waxing my prints, what effect, if any, would coating a VDB/argyrotype print in wax have (in particular would this protect the image from attack or make it worse)?

    I think waxing with a good product, Renaissance wax for example, is ok and offers some protection. Also, it can be removed later if necessary.

    Those are my answers/opinions. Others may differ.

    Sandy King
    Last edited by sanking; 05-29-2010 at 08:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #3
    smieglitz's Avatar
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    Kodak selenium toner is in large part ammonium thiosulfate (aka rapid fixer) and will bleach a VDB (and I suspect the other kallitype flavors) before significant toning and protection is reached unless the stuff is so dilute (1+500 or more) to be questionable in terms of protection, IMO.

    I use Clerc's gold toner with VDB which shifts the color to a cooler purple-brown. I've made VDBs for years and have some that go back maybe 16 years without any noticeable change. I did a toner comparison once between gold, sepia, and selenium toner on VDB and also varied the sequence of toning before or after fixing. I've recently changed ISPs, but perhaps the file is still online:

    VDB & toners

    I think the kallitype variants got a bad rap due to poor processing in the past. Replacing the silver with gold or platinum via toners improves the color and the archival properties IMO. Getting all the iron out is also important so you may want to use an initial 2% citric acid bath for the first rinse. I've also read that part of the reason there is a lack of early kallitypes is because platinum toning replaced the silver making the prints indistinguishable from platinotypes.

  4. #4

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    Thanks guys for the clear and quick responses, I really appreciate it. I do like the ease (at least with VDB) of the processes but want to try and make sure I know what the process will do over time, especially if I sell them.

    Smieglitz - In terms of Gold toner, what would be your preferred dilution? I have some Tetenal toner which I will use.

    Once again, thanks for your help.

  5. #5
    Marco B's Avatar
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    You may find this part of a document by James M. Reilly of some use, as it gives a clearer view of the kind of (silver-) particles formed in different process, and why one maybe more vulnerable to attack than others.

    Marco
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    "I don't know, maybe we should disinvent color, and we could just shoot Black & White." - David Burnett in 1978

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  6. #6

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    There's no stability difference between well processed Vandyke and Argyrotype prints (see here) and I definitely agree with the toning advice.

    Best regards,
    Loris.

  7. #7
    smieglitz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mac064 View Post
    Smieglitz - In terms of Gold toner, what would be your preferred dilution? I have some Tetenal toner which I will use...
    I am unfamiliar with the Tetenal product so won't suggest a dilution. I use Clerc's thiourea-gold toner as described in Wynn White's excellent VDB article on the unblinkingeye.com website.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by smieglitz View Post
    I am unfamiliar with the Tetenal product so won't suggest a dilution. I use Clerc's thiourea-gold toner as described in Wynn White's excellent VDB article on the unblinkingeye.com website.

    I also use the thiourea-gold toner and it is my favorite toner for vandyke. The blue black tone is lovely, much more interesting than the brown tones you get with palladium and platinum toners. Also, I get really great Dmax with the gold toner and some papers. I am attaching a print that is a direct scan in RGB of a gold toned Vandyke. The Dmax (shadow density) of this print is log 1.55, which is about as good as you can get with any of the iron processes. This print is on Lanaquarelle.

    Sandy King
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails OrdesaBeech.jpg  
    Last edited by sanking; 05-30-2010 at 09:07 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #9
    Marek Warunkiewicz's Avatar
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    @sanking

    Hey, Sandy!

    Great shot, really makes me want to see the original.

    Marek
    Marek Warunkiewicz

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marek Warunkiewicz View Post
    Hey, Sandy!

    Great shot, really makes me want to see the original.

    Marek
    Hi Marek,

    Thanks for the comment. That is the kind of tree some photographers could fall in love with!!

    I am attaching another vandyke image, this one shows the blue tone that you get with gold toning a bit better. This image is on the Weston parchment paper.

    Sandy
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails AniscloBeech.jpg  

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