Well, from the research I've done so far, it appears that this new
dryer of mine is a gateway to the whole multilayered subject of
ferrotyping and glazing.
I'll sum up what I've found, mostly on the net, and boil down my
questions afterward. Corrections and illuminations will be greatly
I started out believing that when you had a fiber print dryer with a
heated chrome drum like this Prinz Jet I have, that the process of
drying the print with the emulsion against the drum was called
ferrotyping. It appears that's not quite the case.
[please insert "it appears to me that..." before all apparent statements
of perceived fact. I'm just omitting them to get on with it.]
THE ORIGIN AND VALUE OF GLOSS
Glossy paper prints were first desired by photojournalists because
press reproduction of the time demanded as smooth a surface as
possible in photographs. These days, those who desire high gloss
on their prints usually do so because it reduces the diffusion on
the surface of the print, giving more extreme dMax and dMin and
increasing the apparent dynamic range of the print. It also lends
a deep three-dimensional look to the print that might not be there
with the same image on a matte surface. The latter characteristics
are what I'm after.
FERROTYPING AND GLAZING
Two terms, ferrotyping and glazing, appear to be at the center of
the craft of producing a high gloss on silver gelatin prints. As a
side note, there appears to be a cultural English/American
distinction between the terms wherein glazing is used in England to
refer to both ferrotyping and glazing, but whereas the two
procedures are named separately in the US.
Ferrotypes are also a synonym for tintypes, the earliest
US-originated photographic process whereby a sensitized metal plate
was exposed, processed, and polished to a high sheen. It's this
polishing of a plate that, I supposed, has migrated the term
ferrotype to this process of adding gloss to paper silver gelatin
prints. In ferrotyping, an enamel or metal plate is polished with
a wax-based polished to a high sheen. Prints are squeegeed on to
the plate. Gradually, the prints dry from the edges in to the
center, and once they finally dry, they pop off the plate. I get
the impression that ferrotyping is usually done at room
To avoid having to wax a plate, the successor to ferrotyping was
Glazing. In glazing, the polished wax is replaced by a hard-polished
chrome or similar surface and heat. To keep the emulsion from
cracking from uneven drying, prints are soaked in a solution of
gelatin and water to deter the speed with which water evaporates from
the emulsion as it acquires the gloss from the chrome plate or drum.
Extraordinary attention to detail is called for in keeping the chrome
clean and polished, a shortcoming of glazing being that you can't
just wax and polish your surface smooth. Another thing to watch
out for is that the cloth apron wicks up any impurity of
non-archivaly processed prints and could potentially contaminate
all prints done thereafter until you re-clean your apron.
As an aside, I've got a copy of The Photographer's Handbook, 3rd ed.,
by John Hedgecoe, and on page 60 it shows a nearly exact duplicate
of my dryer and calls it a rotary glazer, specifying that prints be
dried on it face up, against the heated drum.
Thanks to the reference from John Brewer, I've learned there's such
a thing as a glazing sheet, which could go between the print
emulsion and the drum. This might be a good alternative to forever
brasso-ing the chrome drum of my dryer.
That's what I've found out so far.
- I've read that heated drying (which I would presume includes
glazing) is contraindicated for toned prints, since it could have
unpredictable effects on the toner. Eventually, I'd like my
workflow to include solenenium toning followed by hot glazing.
Anyone have any comments on heated drying and/or glazing and
- Anyone using glazing sheets? What are they? Is there a cheap
alternative I can use that would be just as good, such as thick-ish
foil from a craft shop?
- I've heard that the gelatin and water solution is not archival and
promotes mold development in the dried print. Does this mean that
hot glazing is not suitable for archival intentions?
The adventure continues.