My first carbon print
I just finished my very first carbon print using Bostick and Sullivan black carbon tissue transferred onto Ilford MG paper.
I made mistakes but on the whole it was a sucessful first print. I had some smearing from pulling the tissue a little too aggresively and perhaps too early. The print is a little dark looking somewhat muddy but my exposure was a pure swag. I used a negative that I had printed before as a ziatype so I know the negative is capapble of making a good print.
I sensitized the tissue with a 2% solution of potassium dichromate and perhaps a litlle more contrast could be used.
The print has a nice releif, with raised features in the darker tones. I'm sure the print may dry down too dark and I gave the print a alkaline development using some dishwashing detergent to lighten the tones. I also touched the print surface and had some smear but there was not frilling which was my biggest concern.
After dinner I'll make another print with the same negative, I've sensitized 4 pieces of tissues so my goal is to use them all this evening.
All things considered I'm very pleased, this could be addictive. When the prints dry I'll make a scan and post them for you all to see.
Congradulations. This is my project for next weekend. Are you going to post results in the gallery?
Congratulations! How difficult was it? I tried making my own carbon tissue and it was a disaster, so I have been waiting to hear from peoples experience with the new B&S tissue. How much was it?
Yes as soon as the prints dry thoroughly. I screwed up my first one by trying to squeegie the surface. Stupid mistake. The image surface is so delicate and caused some scratches. I'm not upset though as it is a learning experience.
Originally Posted by Mateo
Keep us informed. Carbon is a beautiful process. I'd like to try it sometime, and not having to make the tissue would lower the threshold a bit.
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Originally Posted by Jorge
There are lots of problems to deal with, but basically it is an easy process.
The first problem is that the tissue substrate is a plastic product, Melinex I think and it curls like crazy. Sensitizing the tissue is a pain due to the curl. It curls into cylinder. And since I'm only doing 4x5 negs the small pieces probably accentuate the curling.
One mistake that I made was squeeging of the tissue after sensitizing. The bichromate solution wasn't removed evenly and it shows on the print surface. I just finished my second print and it shows up as streaks in the print, in the sky area of course.
The second problem in with this negative is I need a more contrasty tissue. So when I sensitise the next batch I'll go from 2 to 4% concentration. The print looks muddy. And I didn't reverse the negative on the second print. the second exposure was better though but a little too light. Right now I'm waiting for water to chill down to 55F to process the third print. The first step after exposure is to mate the tissue to the SG paper for the transfer. This is done for 20 seconds in a 55-60 water bath.
I need to be more patient during the developement phase, getting the tissue to release cleanly will take practice. I still have striations in the transfer from removing the tissue prematurely, even though this time I developed for about 20 minutes.
The rubylith I'm using leaks UV and causes a light fog around the border of the image. This can be rubbed of but at the expense of having a scalloped image border. The print transfer is very delicate and it is easy to wash of gelatin during the clearing.
As for the cost Kevin sent me a free sample. Since Sept 17th will be my last day at work due to a layoff I'm not sure when I'll purchase more tissue, I'm guessing its about $80 for 3 sqft. It's in the B&S online catalog.
All things considered I'm pretty pleased. I've seen some of Sandy King's carbon prints using the B&S tissue and his own and a good carbon is a beautiful thing. Worth mastering. And screw those guys that call their inkjet prints carbon pigment prints. I make quadtones and I like them but there is no comparison in my book.
I'll keep giving updates until I run out of tissue.
I asked Kevin for a sample and he sent me a whole sheet (36"x36"). They have the price list on the BS website now.
Don, thanks for sharing your experience. I have been having carbon in my mind for a long time. Its cool to hear that you had an acceptable result on your first shot. I would like to try it myself but I know that once I do it, I will get hooked in the process never to leave it again. I know I will struggle, but nothing good comes without it.
I would love to see you post the image on this forum. You said it looks a little bit muddy and that's ok for a first try. You said a carbon print is beautiful. I have no doubt according to all I have read about it, but could you be more specific about the prints you have seen from Sandy King. What is it about it that is amazing? Is it the shadow separation, the color of the pigment, the texture of it, the paper, etc. I need to see a print in person or at least on the web and I will be on my way!
One of the things that is most interesting about the carbon process is that there is no single look. Prints can be of any color imaginable, on very smooth or very rough textured papers, have a lot of relief or little or no relief, and have a matte surface with a slight sheen or a very smooth shiny surface. The one thing that makes them different from most other alternative processes is that if on smooth surfaces they can be as sharp and have as much Dmax as silver gelatin prints.
Originally Posted by Christian Olivet
The major issue with carbon printing is that it is hard to be productive with the process if you have to make your own tissue, and even if you can buy the tissue ready made as is now the case there are still many chances for failure in every step of the process. I have been printing in carbon for a very long time but still feel very elated every time I make a really nice once print. I could perhaps compare it to pt./pd. printing by noting that it generally takes me two or three tests in pt./pd. before I get a first nice print, but after the first really good one the failure rate is very low for subsequent prints. Carbon is different in that even after I get the exposure and contrast down for a first good print the failure rate for subsequent prints is about two out of every three prints, or even worse on the bad days.
Last edited by sanking; 08-29-2004 at 11:04 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Hey Don, thank you for the reply. I will give Kevin a shout and ask him to send me a sheet, even if I have to pay for it.
BTW, as you know I have no expereince, but I was thinking on your sensitizing problem, why not put the tissue in a tube filled with the dichromate? Seems this way you wont have to mess with it too much.