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Now With More France!

So, back at the beginning January, I was busy with the laptop, extending its lifespan a little with a new batter and rubber bumpers (it’s still inevitable that I will be upgrading in the near future, budget permitting) but one or two things have happened since then.

Today, I am writing to you from France. From the arrondissement of Saint-Etienne in the department of the Loire in the region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. And I will continue from here, as the process of residency in France has begun.

The pandemic restrictions have made traveling around the area pretty much impossible, though I did get to see a bit of the surroundings when I took the bus out to the hospital to get my first round of the Pfizer vaccine. If we’re ever able to take the trains as tourist again, I’m looking forward to it!

Meanwhile, I’ve been making very short ventures out — my neighborhood streets are even more narrow than Leipzig and it’s like walking though canyons, with slivers of sky overhead! But what a glorious blue sky…

The textures and colors are enticing and I’m anxious to capture as much of it as I can.

Of course, this is from windows. The street view gets equally interesting —

Four details of a door on the nearby Rue Saint-Catherine, home of Shark’s Tattoo and Tattoo Museum. One of my two final apartment choices was here. The reason I didn’t take that apartment was NOT because of the tattoo shop — that was actually one of the cool pluses of that little part of the street.

I am home.

Still going…

Isn’t this the way you spend your New Year’s Day? Replacing the battery in your 10-year old laptop?

New battery and new bumpers on the back of the case… ready for another 10 years…

before (“First, we crack the ribcage and open ‘er up”)

New Shoes for Baby!

“… it’s alive!”

And you thought the expat lifestyle was all fun and games, even in 2020.

Janus is confused…

… and looks both ways, not sure which one to take. Calendars mean little to the wind, the fog, or the rain and snow. They come and go as they please.

The sun comes up, the moon goes down and we declare it Monday, or July, or 1033. “Declare” and “calendar”— just an extra “N” and “E” between them.

… give it a name, whatever day you please. Your choice. It matters not to me, or them. Happy Old Year’s End.

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!