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Printer’s Ink Revisited

An update from 16 October — what a difference a week makes. Got the chlorine bleach and made a solution of hot water and bleach, 1:8 bleach to H20, and gave the print a bit of a bath.

A light brush of the print cleared away nearly all the excess and brightened the image over all. Yes, the exposure and processing need more work, I need to use a much less textured paper, and think about using oil paint instead of intaglio ink, BUT I’M NOT UNHAPPY WITH IT. Clearly, this will be a fun direction to pursue…

The Smell of Printer’s Ink…

I’ve started exploring a new-to-me old process called “gumoil” — it works on the principle that various chromates harden gums and other proteins when exposed to light. There’s a whole nexus of process based on this concept: Gum bromoil, gum bi/dichromate, carbon transfer, carbro… all of them related by this basic action. It is NOT based on silver.

In this case, the image is formed by the adhesion of printer’s ink to the areas not exposed to light (and thus the gum is dissolved when the print is placed in water).

Just started working with it, using up some older paper.

Et maintenant, quelque chose de complètement différent…

Well, not all THAT different, any way!

Started this afternoon on this —

Initial State 01:

Positive and inverted scans of etched aluminum plate; the non-etched areas are highly polished and reflective, so they appear dark and the etched areas in grays and whites in the positive. The traces of red are the remnants of the BIG Etching Ground (Baldwin’s Ink Ground — comes in red or black, the red making it easier to see on the plate). I’ll need to remove the last bits before continuing further… there’s at least another round of etching in the sodium+copper sulphate solution to come.

And yes, there are areas where I didn’t have the ground rolled out as evenly as I thought, so it’s lacking in good coverage and you can see what is a kind of dot pattern on the plate. If I let it, I could etch this further and that texture would print. What’s cool about the aluminum is that it will etch a texture if there is no ground/resist present…

So how did you spend your Saturday afternoon?

Positive scan

Inverted scan, suggests what the plate would look like if printed with black ink on white paper at this stage. But, of course, there is still much work ahead on this!

A test of…

A test of a new tool for posting from somewhere/somewhen else than on the laptop… not having previously worked with “Markdown” as opposed to “Markup”, this is a new adventure.

Of course, like any “new” tool (I know Byword has been around for a while now), there will be a learning curve and I’ll have to get used to it.


More Fun with Ferric Silver: Four Argyrotypes

And what, you rightly ask, is an argyrotype? Well… SOOOO glad you asked! I’ll save you the trouble of running to Wikipedia and just quote them here:

Argyrotype is an iron-based silver printing process that produces brown images on plain paper. It is an alternative process derived from the argentotype, kallitype, and Van Dyke processes of the 19th century, but has greater simplicity, improved image stability, and longer sensitizer shelf-life.[1] It was developed by Mike Ware.[2]

While this process may not have the permanence of other processes such as platinum or palladium printing, it is much less expensive and more user friendly. The core resource used is silver sulphamate (NH2SO3Ag) which can be prepared on site from sulphamic acid.[2] The sensitizer used is very slow, so printing must be by contact with a large format negative, using an ultraviolet lamp or sunlight.

As with most alternative processes there is room for manipulating the process to achieve different effects, and since the image is produced on plain paper many drawing or print making processes can be combined with the original image.

In other words, it is a process for printing images using iron-silver salts. Like so many alternative/historical photographic processes, the light-sensitive liquid is applied to paper, dried, and exposed to some kind of image matrix. This can be objects, drawings, traditional “negatives/positives”, or a mix of any and/or all of these. That latter is what I’ve been exploring.


Four argyrotypes, hot gold-toned, two on Hahnemühle Platinum Rag postcard, one on Silberburg 140 g/m handmade watercolor paper, one on Terschelling 300 g/m watercolor postcard paper. Photogenic (manually produced), digitally-produced negatives, and hybrid (combined digital and manual) negatives. Digital output from laser printer. “Hot gold toning” refers to using a gold toner that has been heated warmer than the usual working temperatures, in this case I warm the toner to 35°C. The toning is often done to lend greater permanence to the image by replacing silver particles with gold particles. This toning is a common practice with kallitypes and includes toning with platinum and palladium salt solutions.

I’m fascinated by how this particular process is responding to the drawn lines on the laser printer output, as compared to the kallitypes. Even under magnification, the lines resemble traditional intaglio lines, but without the impression that comes from running the plate through the press. This is especially obvious in the first and third images below.

And many thanks to Carol Boss HahnemühleMike Ware, and Wolfgang Moersch for resources and inspiration. And there are not enough words to describe my inspiration and loving support from the woman who, through her own work with this process, inspired me to actually give it a try myself: Annemarie Borg.


Silberburg 140 g/m handmade watercolor paper. Yes, I’m making fun of Kodak safety Film… hand “drawing” on laser printer transparency material.


Terschelling 300 g/m watercolor postcard paper. This is best described as being a digital “collage” as part of the image is from a digital photograph (JPG) and the other is from a “drawing”  (using ProCreate on an iPad), combined in Photoshop and printed on laser printer transparency.


Another photogenic drawing, this time printed on Hahnemühle Platinum Rag postcard (an aside: Hahnemühle Platinum Rag is an extremely dependable, consistent paper for doing alt-hist processes… yes, I am shamelessly endorsing them). Those spots are not stains, such as we see in kallitypes due to poor clearing, but are inconsistencies in the transparency that gave very different  density in the print and so toned very differently than the rest of the image. The “plate tone” effect is also a result of the transparency itself. I’m using a very inexpensive laser printer (Brother HL 1212W, to be specific), so the quality of the transparency toner layer can be, errr, “inconsistent”?



The most “photographic” image of the four — it comes from a digital photograph made on an iPhone 8+, output from the laser printer. Again, it is printed on Hahnemühle Platinum Rag postcard paper.

So until next time, a bientôt!

Ferric argentum…

So here’s a little album of four prints, reflecting what I’ve been working on the past month or so (actually longer than that, but it’s finally starting to come together in a bit more tangible way.

For those following along at home, the gory details:

Four small (less than 5″ x 7″, basically A5/Postcard size) prints.

#1. Done with a film neg, paper coated about 3 weeks before the exposure was made. (Guardi Watercolor Post Card paper)
#2. Printed from film neg, about 24 hours after coating; Silverberg handmade watercolor paper

#3. & #4. Printed from same coating batch as #2, but a week later from a LASER-Printed negative, on Boesner 250gm mixed media paper.



#2,#3, and #4 all gold and selenium toned.

These are experiments, as I find my way to a working process, setting up the space here in Leipzig so that I can have consistent working conditions. Right now one of the big challenges is being able to get paper coated, dried and printed quickly (i.e., not having to wait for a week before I can find time to print).

I am finding the use of the gold toner to be a true “discovery”… while not as noticeable on #3 & #4, watching the changes when processing #2 was absolutely breath-taking.

But the base color of the paper of #2 is just not right… the neutral color of the Boesner 250 is nice and readily available. Of course, I’m saving my stash of Hahnemühle Platinum Rag for later! I mean, who wouldn’t!?

The “newest” aspect in all of this is that #3 & #4 were printed from a laser-printed digital negative (they are actually quarters from an A4 transparency sheet) that came from a cell-phone photo. That’s as opposed to #1 & #2, which were produced by contacting printing an HP-5+ film negative from a Fuji 6×9 camera. Because kallitype is a contact printing process, that means that the image is the size of the image matrix, in this case 6cm x 9cm (or 2 ¼” x 31/4″).

So once I feel I have a consistent paper/coating process I will be exploring the possibilities that this negative matrix creation will allow me moving forward. It means that I will be able to produce larger images and prints.

Thanks for following and enjoy the ride!

Ben Woitena, online…

So things have been a bit busy for me and I’ve been a bit absent here.

But this morning, a dear friend shared a link to a digital portfolio of his work. Ben was among the first new group people I met when I moved back to Houston from Austin, after doing my undergraduate work there. Watching him as he worked made a huge impression and talking with him, and other artists (the conversations of between him and Don Shaw were like listening to dueling magicians) sealed my decision to keep making images, how ever I could.

I hope you’ll take a look at his site.
Meanwhile, back in Leipzig, Weihnachtsmarkt is in full swing as we begin to close in on Christmas. The weather is NOT keeping the crowds away!

Ein bisschen von diesem, ein bisschen von jenem…

Which is to say, “a little from this, a little from that”. And that is how it’s been. The weather here has not decided if it will be Spring or Winter — there’s snow in the forecast for this weekend, but those days it does decide that it’s time to move on, the days are quite glorious. Growing up on the Texas Coast, Spring was more a matter of hours, not thought of as a season of weeks if not months. Ever since I was in Grad School back in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I have come to appreciate Spring with all its capricious attitude and snow. Of course, experiencing mountain weather of Laramie at 2200 meters meant going from Winter to Spring to Summer and back to Winter in the space of 24 hours!

But we persist.

And that means the continuing train and tram travel, interrupted by biking and walking where and when we can. Public transport offers the most fun… and sometimes we get repeat visits. I didn’t take her photo yesterday, but this is another un-named fellow traveller on the S-bahn.

Her companion from before was not present but I suppose I’ll see him next time I’m coming back from that direction. There are a number of faces that are beginning to become familiar as we have similar commuting habits. This seems to be especially true for we cyclists, who often wind up watching out for each other at the stops to be sure we can get on and off with our bikes.

Longing to go, a captive of the sun.

Little hints along the way, walking from station to client, client to station…

This morning, the tips of those branches were now spreading sworls of leaves. By next week I’m sure they will be fully formed.

Here are some gratuitous motorcycle photos for you, Terry… still not much sign of the café racers, but I’m sure they are around:

I wonder whose ego is bigger between those two?

As for the localvores, it’s “spargelzeit” and we’ve been inundated with both white and green asparagus. Good eats for while it is here (and it seems to last longer than the all-too short Fall chantarelle season in the restaurants).

Two more transit photos for today — the first was on the tram, coming back from a client. They got on with me and we joked a bit in German… the real fun was later when I wound up giving directions, auf Deutsch natürlich, to a group of Germans, showing them on my phone where they needed to get off. The couple found that immensely amusing, the American explaining directions in Leipzig.

The other gentleman was sitting opposite on another tram, and his expression was simply one to not miss. So I didn’t…

So that’s all for now, from a little here and a little there… à bientôt!

Faces on a train (apologies to Hitchcock)

Some of you know I especially like to do my people-watching on public transport, and as I am so dependent upon it here, it is very difficult to resist. Add to the dependence upon it the sheer range of variety, and it is an extemporaneous public portraitist’s paradise (or Hell, but more of that elsewhen*).

One can speculate and make up all manner of stories of what one sees in the eyes of these strangers who are sharing this space with you. Sometimes those speculations are true, other times they are simply your own fantasies. It doesn’t matter, the faces are there, we are all wondering why our train has been yet again pulled to a siding for a further delay, asking ourselves if Deutsche Bahn will ever finish working on the tracks.


I shared an image of her earlier, but she really does epitomize so many of the riders in the evening… others are more animated, sharing their experiences of the day with each other…


and his companion…


… just another day on the S-bahn.

There are days when I wish I weren’t so tired as to be a little too slow on the riposte. Shortly after making the above two photos, I was accosted from behind my seat by another rider who, in German began asking me what I was doing, taking pictures of people on the train, telling me how rude it was. Had I been a little less tired, I would have demanded, as loudly as possible, if they knew just how rude it was to be peeking over someone’s shoulder on a crowded train, spying on someone else’s phone.

But I didn’t — I simply suddenly forgot that I spoke any German at all and that was the end of it. The photographic subjects seemed vaguely amused and embarrassed simultaneously.

Until next time, a biéntot and tschuß!