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The paper year


Cloister, Catedral de Sta Maria
Carbon transfer on Lanaquarelle

I haven’t done a lot of alt printing lately, but with all the recent remodeling I had to find new space for my stash, and so I took a little inventory.  Also, for some reason this fall my interests have returned to the darkroom with an eagerness that’s startling. Here’s to extending the shortening days with long hours of music and printing. Maybe this is just from some general registry for the tactile, all knotted up with nostalgia for the new school year.  I always thought October was a better start for the new year than January- the fiscal calendar has it right.  Time to find a comfortable place indoors and take stock.  I’ve always loved any craft supplies but paper is special, almost fetishistic. Doing the things that concern themselves with paper as possibly just an excuse to handle the paper itself. Drawing, printing, painting. I quit writing as much when I switched from a typewriter to keyboard.

Some notes-

Unless otherwise noted all papers are hot press.

Lana 90lb– I use reverse side for carbon (watermark shows backwards). Works great with ‘colloid’ method of sizing. 3.5% gelatin. Only have room to hang dry 12 half-sheets in garage. 1500ml water, 52.5g gelatin. Proof .5 hour, nuke for 5-7 minutes with stirring, then dissipate bubble for 1-2 hours. Soak in cool water 2 – ½ sheets initially for 30 minutes, then add a sheet to  soaking bath for each one pulled to size. Add 1.5ml of formalin per 100ml gelatin for each ½ sheet. Pouring from the side of dedicated pyrex cup, very slowly. This method also works well with Fabriano and Arches. Use #100 mayer rod to spread out solution evenly.
-Very grainy with kallitypes after treating with 5% citric acid bath. Just tried 2% oxalic- definitely works, but some clearing issues. Need to work with it more, but it’s getting hard to find, will probably just save the rest for carbon.
-Haven’t tried for gum- 90lb is probably too lightweight.

Arches 90lb– Favorite paper for kallitypes, treated in 5% citric acid for 10 minutes after plain water presoak. No rinse.  Also makes for nice warm Ziatypes without any tungstate.
140- works the same as 90lb, same citric acid bath. Recently got some bright white in this weight and have treated the same way, will see how it works for kallitypes, possibly try it for carbon. In a hot water stress test for carbon the paper did not fare very well- seemed to break the paper surface down in areas, surface pilled a little, and the new sizing seemed to soak up unevenly.

Fabriano Artistico Traditional White/Extra White– tried 90lb in traditional for carbon- too warm, almost clay-toned like Weston Diploma. Tried it with 2% oxalic acid bath for kallitypes- looks very similar to arches in contrast and tone. Seemed to stain from the dichromate in the developer. Tried in sodium acetate developer and was very very contrasty. Tried the treated paper for cyanotypes- might be worth exploring for a tri-gum base, but that would be a lot of work: Shrink, acid treat, expose cyanotype, then size and print remaining gum layers.
-Nice for gum and gum-overs. Sized with 4% gelatin, 2% formalin, 50ml of sizing per ½ sheet. Size doesn’t seem to impact cyanotype layer. The highlights are clearing nicely.
-Also tried some EW for kallitypes.  Shrink in hot water 1 hour and then treating in 2% oxalic acid. The preshrinking step is so I can also use for gumovers. This develops out really grainy, but the toner reduces the grain considerably, as does the fixer. We’ll see how they dry down. Also, was harder to clear than either the arches or BFK…need to try citric acid. Wonder if I can re-treat the oxalic stuff in 5% citric acid?

Rives BFK- Tried this for gum, kallitypes and zias. Gum works well using typical gum sizing methods (with 4% gelatin, 2% formalin, 50ml of sizing per ½ sheet, solution is just brushed on with foam brush). The paper is a little too textured.  I like the look for kallitypes. Seems to look roughly the same with 5% citric acid and 1.5% oxalic acid prebaths as it does with no acid treatment at all, but the no acid and oxalic acid sheets were very difficult to clear in the citric acid clearing bath. Paper seems to need slightly more exposure than arches. Very neutral print color, wonderful, not too cool.  For cyanotype it prints much faster and more contrasty than FAEW. Have tried with Ware’s and Trad., prefer Ware’s.

Somerset Satin– bought this under recommendation for albumen in Christopher James Alt Printing book. Don’t much like the surface so I haven’t fooled with it. Not sure why he recommended such a odd surface for albumen- typically a plate or vellum surface is used. Also tried some local bought vellum finish card stock- Strathmore drawing smooth 80 lb is easy to work with coating albumen. Need to try the Strathmore plate 500 series if I ever pick albumen up again….Just tried with gum. Typical sizing isn’t enough, has some odd staining characteristics. And it’s a little to textural.

Stonehenge 90lb– Tried with pigpal. Takes inkjet layer very well for inkjet/ palladium, but Pd layer looks like absolute arse- weak. Not sure even acid treatment would fix it. Glad I only have 25 sheets of it!

Revere Platinum- Have tried for zias and pigpal prints. Works fairly well. Dmax slightly weaker than COT320 or Arches. Take inks well for inkjet kallitype/palladium prints.

COT320– nice paper for zias and pigpal. Needs tungstate to neutralize bluish cast with zias- very cool, almost cold-toned without. Takes ink well with inkjet/ palladium. Have jot tried for kallitypes.

A good cheap paper to experiment with for the iron-based processes is Awagami Masa, which is also very thin but has phenomenal wet strength. It’s a little odd when processing because it becomes translucent, but it’s easy to coat without being too thirsty. It was around $1 for a 21×31 inch sheet last time I bought some. Compared to $7-$10 a sheet for Platine and COT320 or $12-16 a sheet for the Ruscombe Herschel and Buxton papers it’s a unblinking bargain.