Argyro/Cyano paper issues.
I'm sure you hear this a lot so stop me if you're tired of it.
I recently began creating digital negatives and exposing them with cyanotype solution, with mixed results.
Aside from getting badly contrasted images, which I'm sure will just come down to trial/error when it comes to printing my negatives out, I seem to be getting weird dark marks, like splatter marks, all over my pages a few seconds after applying the solution. If I had to guess, I'd say that the solution is 'bunching up' in the grain of the paper I am using. When I wash the images after exposure, these marks seem to go more brown, looking like dirty marks on the paper. Hydrogen peroxide solution makes this worse.
I just did an Argyrotype, it is exposing as I type this, with some solution that I had left over and the same has happened. I will finish the exposure and process it anyway, but I don't have high hopes for it.
Here's the technical stuff.
With the cyanotypes, I used Windsor and Newton 300gsm Watercolour Paper, Cold Pressed. I hadn't heard much about this, so I'm fully expecting someone to tell me it's useless.
With the Argyrotype, I used Canson Monteval Traditional 300gsm Watercolour Paper. I heard this is great for Cyano, but haven't heard much about Argyro. It was just here in front of me, so I thought why not.
I have some Arches Aquarelle Cold Pressed, which I'm saving for use after I've made three or four consistently acceptable exposures with what I have, since the Arches cost me a bomb.
I put two drops of Photo-Flo per cc of solution in all of the exposures. I should perhaps be more scientific in my tests, but these dirty marks need to go first before I can start worrying about max densities and humidity and things like that. I'm exposing with a UV bulb, by the way, which exposes the cyanotypes incredibly quickly. The argyrotype in the other room doesn't seem to be reacting to it as well.
Any help that you guys could give me would be great.
Edit: By the way, I bought my solutions from fotospeed, and I use their Digital Contact Film for my negatives.
How are you applying the solution?
Which cyanotype are you using?
Can you share a scan showing the problems?
If I had to guess, I'd say that you let the solution sit too long before spreading it and it was absorbed by the paper in the spots you dropped it. On the other hand, I am unfamiliar with the papers in question, and they could be really poorly suited to siderotypes.
Anyone doing alt-process work should start out with samples of 10 different papers--6 of which should be ones recently recommended by other alt-process practitioners. These processes are all very sensitive to the type of paper and for the most part--paper mills do no quality assurance related to alt-process use. Some papers work beautifully, some don't work at all, and some may partially work or only work by painstakingly optimizing the process. Testing a number of papers should allow you to find the ones that work without excessive machinations.
I am using the fotospeed solution. I believe it is the Mike Ware one. As well as the fotospeed argyrotype solution.
I'm applying by running a syringe across a glass rod, then spreading it. It could be that I am applying too much at once, but I am applying the amounts that Ware recommends, I will post a scan during my next attempt.
The Mike Ware cyanotype formula is very sensitive to the quality of paper.
You may wish to try acidifying some paper in dilute HCl - most "acid free" papers are loaded with buffers that can create havoc with iron processes. Good luck!
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You're technique sounds ok. Mine is a bit different: I form a line of solution at the top of the page, about 1/2-3/4" from the edge, put the rod on that line and jiggle it back and forth to make sure it is even, then draw it back and forth over the paper until the solution is gone. Either way, it does not seem that you should be getting splashing.
Liquid requirement is based purely on coverage. I mean to say that the amount you need changes with different papers.
Yup, I'm mostly in agreement that the papers your trying are not compatible.
But, unless you have problems that require a surfactant ( photo-flo ) then just leave that out. If you do need it, then you'll probably want to dilute it.
The good news ( or bad ) is that the Aquarella has a decent chance of working.
So try leaving out the photo-flo and a small sample of of your precious stash of aquarella and see what happens.
Also you can check out DPUG.ORG ( apug sister site ) for digital negatives.
Cyanotype (both trad. and new formulas, the new one being much more sensitive) and Argyrotype (very sensitive) both need pure, *UNBUFFERED* (neutral or slightly acidic pH) papers. Don't even think about using a buffered paper; you won't get good results, only a lot of frustration. (Some buffered papers can be made work by acidification, but that's a PIA and IME, often the results won't be as good as - technically - what you can get by using the - technically - right / perfect papers...)
When I coat Arches with my cheap brush, the cyano chems stay "on top" of the paper for quite a while, allowing me to get even coats even with a cheap brush. I've used other papers that were chemically compatible but had issues because they were not sized as well as Arches. Stonehenge for eg. wants to suck the chems right off the brush, not given me enough open time to evenly coat the paper. This results in a mottled look in the finished print. Also, Arches is expensive in the block, less so in sheets.
I've had good luck coating Mike Ware's formula on Buxton with a foam brush. One of my students showed me decent cyanotypes and VDB prints on Arches watercolor. There's not only a problem with buffered papers, but recently I've read that even the quality of the cotton they use has gone down. Paper is the trickiest part. Also, Berrger's paper known as COT 320 should work. It works for platinum printing and it's available from their website. Here's a cyanotype on Buxton.