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  1. #1

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    Linen Paper for Iron-based Processes

    A New Linen Paper for Siderotype (Iron-based) Processes

    As fellow-practitioners of the "ferric processes" will know only too well, the last technical difficulty confronting us is the uncertain quality and composition of the paper stock that we coat.
    Everything else lies within our control.
    In recent times, I've heard that the commercial supplies of cotton furnishings for high quality papermaking have become increasingly unreliable, sometimes causing problems in the changing characteristics and supply of some of our most popular papers for hand-coating, such as Arches Platine and Bergger COT 320.

    For nearly 20 years I've successfully used a 100% cotton handmade paper called 'Buxton' paper, from Ruscombe Mill at Margaux, the background is here:

    http://www.mikeware.co.uk/mikeware/A..._Printing.html

    Recently I've been testing a new paper from Ruscombe Mill, which will become fully available by the end of April, this year. The launch of this product has been announced on the Mill's website:

    http://www.ruscombepaper.com/

    It will differ from all other alternative process papers in being handmade from 100% linen cellulose fibre (i.e. made entirely from the best quality flax, not cotton).
    Chris Bingham, the master papermaker at Ruscombe Mill, is making this product for the alternative process community, and has named it 'Herschel' paper, remembering that great man's innovation of the siderotype processes. He sees it as the future replacement for Buxton and Talbot papers.

    I've tested Herschel paper with argyrotype, new cyanotype, palladiotype, platinotype, platino-palladiotype, and new chrysotype. It performs superbly with all these processes as I practice them.

    I guess that the different performance of flax versus cotton cellulose lies in the fibre morphology constraining the image substance. The structure of the flax fibre may enhance its ability to retain nanoparticles of image pigment, which is essential to the success of all siderotype processes. During the wet processing, I don't see any "bleeding" of image substance - even Prussian blue, which is notorious. I've been particularly delighted with the colour of the silver images it yields with my argyrotype process, and the range of colours obtainable with new chrysotype, which are also highly dependent on particle size.

    Herschel paper, like Buxton, is 'engine-sized' with neutral alkylketene dimer, AKD. It can be rod-coated with sensitizer solution similarly to Buxton, with the addition of Tween 20 surfactant to the sensitizer, to ca. 0.1-0.2%. There is, of course, absolutely no added chalk or other alkaline buffer in this paper, which seriously inhibit siderotype, no surface sizing such as gelatin, which 'kills' platinum, nor clay or gypsum fillers, OBAs, etc., etc. With all processes, the Dmax is high, the cold-pressed surface is perfectly matte with a 'fine tooth' texture, the clearing of whites in the wet processing is rapid and complete, and the gradation and smoothness of the image tones are excellent. This linen paper sheet has much greater resilience and wet strength than cotton papers, notwithstanding its moderate weight of 200 gsm. Dimensional stability is good, with about ±1% hydroexpansivity; but to obtain a perfectly flat sheet after processing, it does need to be dried slowly under pressure.

    'Herschel' paper will prove an excellent replacement for Buxton, with the advantage that the Mill's supply of linen cellulose fibre (from flax grown in Northern France or Belgium) is more reliable and consistent than present supplies of cotton. In high quality papermaking, confidence in the raw materials is paramount. One need have little worry about archivality, because linen was the first plant fibre historically available to Europeans for making fabrics. Long before the growth of the cotton textile industry towards the end of the 18th Century, linen rags were being processed in the 15th Century for European papermaking, and such papers have endured well to this day. I believe that linen has also been used for banknotes, bonds, and other security papers.

    I apologise if you encounter multiple postings of this information, (and I beg the usual critics kindly to note that I have no commercial or pecuniary interest in this product.)

    With good wishes to all,

    Mike

    Dr Mike Ware
    mike@mikeware.co.uk
    http://www.mikeware.co.uk

  2. #2
    artonpaper's Avatar
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    This is great news, I will try it as soon as it is available. I did have trouble with a few sheets of Buxton that I bought here in NY a while ago (spotty blacks, with tiny white speckles). I've used it many times, before and since it has been fine.

  3. #3

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    who is going to carry this in the states?? I have used linen paper in the past and was extremely pleased with the results...hats off to Ruscombe!!
    Best, Peter
    website down for maintenance!

  4. #4
    artonpaper's Avatar
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    Here in NY we have New York Central Art Supplies. They have a world class paper department. They carry all the usual Pt/Pd papers, except COT 320, when they're available, including papers from Ruscombe Mills. BTW, I paid through the nose, but I just ordered the linen paper form Ruscombe on line, via Pay Pal. I've ordered from them before. The new paper is called "Herschel". Here's a link to NY Central's paper products.
    http://www.nycentralartsupply.com/

  5. #5

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    central is awesome but there are no real papers around except the ones you acidify yourself...a lot easier to just get to work with the right tools. should email mike ware to find out who might carry it here
    Best, Peter
    website down for maintenance!

  6. #6

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    I understand that Ruscombe Mill has been in contact with some well-known distributors of art papers in the USA. Unfortunately they are all asking for such large discounts that it is uneconomic for the Mill to supply them; of course, the high shipping costs don't help. Handmade paper is inevitably more expensive than machine-made paper. I think one should be prepared to pay up to 10% of the 'value' of one's handmade print for the sheet of handmade paper it's printed on.

    While the pigmented colloid-hardening processes can still be practised quite successfully with cheap machine-made papers, it now seems that there is now no machine-made paper that performs really well for the iron-based processes - and some of the previous favorites are now disappointing - it's thought due to deterioration in the quality of raw cotton fibre supplies for papermaking.

    It remains to be seen if the large-volume papermills are prepared to machine-make an adequate paper for our purposes.
    It's possible that there may be aspects to forming a suitable sheet which can only be achieved by hand-making.

    Mike

  7. #7

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    ordered the paper direct from Ruscombe mills....can't wait I love linen and plat!
    Best, Peter
    website down for maintenance!

  8. #8
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    Great, I just bought some..EC

  9. #9

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    I'm tempted to buy some of this and/or some Buxton. I hear regularly that Buxton paper is unrivalled when it comes to the alternative processes so how does this new paper compare? What advantages does it have over Buxton in terms of image clarity, (In the case of cyanotype) the types of blues we can expect from it as well as detail and contrast? Do you have any example images to show, or perhaps some side by side comparisons?

  10. #10

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    The reason for launching this paper and its "advantages" over Buxton are explained in my first posting, above, and on the Ruscombe Mill website. In the case of cyanotype, the type of blue you can expect will depend on your sensitizer chemistry and processing, rather than the paper. I did post some steptablet tests elsewhere, on DPUG, with the proviso that the scanning optics had overemphasised the surface texture but, despite my saying that, the images were disparagingly interpreted as "grainy", so I am reluctant to post them again. Grainy they are not.

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