View Full Version : Used x-ray film for making carbon transfer tissue

21-Aug-2015, 01:47
I've shot a couple of dozen of 8x10 xray negatives by now, and some of the negatives don't have usable images on them for various reasons. I saved the sheets, so I have a small stack of maybe a dozen sheets that I can repurpose. Nearly all of them have partial images on them, developed and fixed, and they are double sided. I'd like to use these sheets as temporary supports for carbon tissue.

I see three likely routes to use them:
1. Strip them so that only the film base remains and then pour the flop onto them. But will the tissue adhere to the stripped film, or can I expect it to peel off like it would from e.g. a sheet of smooth plastic (I've tried that with 1mm polyethylene sheets and it doesn't work at all)?

2. Bleach the negatives thoroughly and then fix out the silver. This will leave the existing gelatin coating in place and should be a perfect adhesion layer for the tissue. What would be the fastest and most economical way of bleaching the negatives? If possible, I'd like to refrain from buying permanganate or ferricyanide bleach only for this purpose, since I don't use it for anything else.

3. Just use them as they are, leaving whatever images are on the negatives intact. Would the silver images somehow partially transfer along with the tissue onto my carbon prints and create ugly artifacts particularly in the highlights?

Your experiences and ideas are most welcome!

Jim Fitzgerald
21-Aug-2015, 07:06
I use and have used x-ray film as my temporary support for a long time now. I use it for all sizes except 14 x 17. Generally I take the unused film and fix it out and pour my tissue on it. No stripping needs to be done.Just fix it out. I have used exposed film as well and the same thing applies. Just fix it out and wash it and if you have a bad image or unusable negative to print from it becomes carbon support. It is a win win. I personally like the fact that the film is stout and reusable. I've never had any problems and I have been doing carbon prints for many years now using x-ray film as my base support.

21-Aug-2015, 07:12
Jim, I was hoping you'd chime in because I know you have used x-ray film for your carbon printing. Your youtube vids was one of the most helpful ones in getting the hang of the process. It's great to hear I can use these sheets without further modification (they have all been fixed, washed and dried). Next time I'll be pouring glop, it'll be on these sheets!

And yes, their firmness and the possibility for reuse are huge benefits. I think it also helps that they don't have a fiber base; previously I've been a firm drawing paper to pour glop on, but I find some of the paper fibers on the surface tend to get embedded into the tissue and in dark areas also in the final print. That risk doesn't exist with film as a temporary support.

Jim Fitzgerald
21-Aug-2015, 08:36
I remember early on using unpasted wallpaper as a temporary support. Harry carbon prints!!! I also remember Vaughn's reaction when I showed him some of my tissue. Carbon printing is great in that you can use some materials over and over again. I get rid of my used x-ray film when it gets to many holes in it from the push pins in it that I use to hang it. Now I hang them differently and no holes so I should be able to use them indefinitely.

I'm glad the video helped. I hope to do a follow up one in the future. Got some additional ideas to share.

21-Aug-2015, 08:59
I've made some unfortunate material choices myself for sure ;) India ink that turned out to have a red dye added to it that wouldn't wash out of a print, tissue peeling cleanly away from smooth plastic supports, art papers that would wrinkle and fall apart as I poured glop into them - I think I pretty much have an overview of every possible way you can mess up a tissue haha!

Can't wait to try the film as a support though, but it'll have to wait for a few weeks. And I also use a drying regime that doesn't imvolve any pinholes so I'd expect the film to last virtually indefinitely. A few dozen sheets to last a lifetime!

21-Aug-2015, 09:09
I have used used litho film for tissue support -- I picked them out of the trash when students toss them. The silver image on them had no effect of the tissues. Some sheets I have reused dozens of times. The thinner litho film lasts longer (can be reused more) than the thicker xray film for some reason.

Since I do not work at the university darkroom anymore, I use mostly xray film (14x17), coat the whole piece and cut down as needed.

The litho film is .004" thick -- xray is about .007" thick. I actually prefer the thinner (I find it easier to remove during the hot water developing bath), but the thicker x-ray is fine. I find that a little larger sheet of xray film than what I was using with litho film helps when peeling it off in the hot water.

21-Aug-2015, 11:08
Thanks for chiming in Vaughn! I was wondering about the peeling away part, as that's really easy with a very flexible support. Maybe it'll help if I use a slightly warmer bath and wait 10 minutes or so before peeling it off; by that time it should sort of float off anyway.