View Full Version : Bostick & Sullivan Carbon Tissue

24-Sep-2015, 12:52
Does anyone have experience using the Bostick & Sullivan Carbon Tissue? I would like to try carbon printing and this looks like it might be a convenient way to try. :p



Peter De Smidt
24-Sep-2015, 13:49
I've used some. I'm no expert, but it worked fine. It's a good way to start.

Jim Fitzgerald
24-Sep-2015, 17:47
My experience is that to really know carbon printing you need to pour your own tissue. B&S makes a decent tissue to learn with.

24-Sep-2015, 18:16
Peter & Jim, thanks for the info.


24-Sep-2015, 19:15
If you can, transfer onto fixed-out photopaper to begin with. FB (emulsion side) or RC (either side). I prefer Fiber - glossy.

Good Luck!

25-Sep-2015, 07:18
If you can, transfer onto fixed-out photopaper to begin with. FB (emulsion side) or RC (either side). I prefer Fiber - glossy.

Good Luck!

Thanks for the tip Vaughn :)


Jim Fitzgerald
25-Sep-2015, 09:47
If you find that carbon is of interest my suggestion is to take a workshop with a carbon printer with experience. I found that in my work from the very beginning I wanted complete control over the process. Hence, pouring my own tissue was a must. The difference is that with the B&S tissue you have a thin quality tissue that has certain colors available. When you pour your own you can blend pigments and create your own colors unique to you and pour a thick tissue if you desire a high relief image.

Which ever way you go you will have to dedicate a lot of time to the learning curve. Good luck.

Wally H
26-Sep-2015, 12:22
Oh dear lord, yes do a workshop if possible. About 4 months ago a buddy of mine and I decided to tackle carbon (including making tissue, which is surprisingly easy). We have been printing at least once a week and after each tragic failure we swear we will save up and take one of Fitzgerald's workshops. However, each time we also see glacial progress so it keeps us coming back for one more round of punishment (I hate carbon/I love carbon). Finally we have made a marginally acceptable but nowhere near happy yet print. A workshop likely would have saved us a wad of paper and 2 fifths of Scotch.

Jim Fitzgerald
26-Sep-2015, 13:05
Oh boy, I've had tragedy happen with to much wine! I've always felt that the best way to learn carbon printing is to print, print print. Once you understand the basics and dedicate a lot of time things come together. Wine or scotch are optional!

Wally H
26-Sep-2015, 18:24
Fortunately no tragedies are due (yet) to wine or scotch but they are certainly due to the about 25 freaken variables. What amazes me is there are only about 5 or 6 known carbon transfer authors/utubers and each do a number of things differently. If the same was true to the same degree of silver gelatin printing it would have never gotten off of the ground.

26-Sep-2015, 19:10
Fortunately no tragedies are due (yet) to wine or scotch but they are certainly due to the about 25 freaken variables. What amazes me is there are only about 5 or 6 known carbon transfer authors/utubers and each do a number of things differently. If the same was true to the same degree of silver gelatin printing it would have never gotten off of the ground.

Most people would never attempt to learn carbon on their own if they had any idea what they were getting into. Some alternative print making processes are quite easy and you can follow a good article or video and make good prints in a month or so. Processes like gum bichromate, kallitype, vandkye, platinum/palladium (and even combinations such as platinum over gum, platinum over cyanotype, etc) are also fairly easy to learn. Sensitizing and drying procedures are fairly routine, and you can make 5-10 tests within 2-3 hours.

Carbon is more like gravure. It is a long road trip and don't expect to complete it in a day, or even in a week. In fact, even when you have learned to make perfect tissue, good tests still take 4-6 hours from sensitizing to final print. And some of this stuff, quite frankly, would take you years to learn on your own. Believe me, I know, because I learned carbon in the late 70s and 80s when no one was doing workshops that taught the process from tissue making to final print, and I learned through trial and error. And there was a lot of error.

That said, the principles of carbon are not that complicated, once you really understand them. What Vaughn Hutchins does, for example, is really not all that different from what Sandy King does, at least so much as they pertain to the carbon process itself.

However, if you have the time and the money to spare, and really want to learn this process, spare yourself a lot of head scratching by doing a workshop with a good carbon printer. You may wind up coming to the conclusion that carbon is not for you, but that in itself could save you a lot of frustration trying to learn the process on your own. I have had students who go home and realize fairly soon that carbon is not for them, and others who have continued and now are masters of the process, and teaching workshops themselves, who tell me that the workshop with me saved them at least two years on their own of trial and error.


Jim Fitzgerald
26-Sep-2015, 20:32
Variables are fun!

Jim Fitzgerald
26-Sep-2015, 20:37
Sandy brings up several good points. Carbon is truly a labor of love. To master the process takes time and as Sandy says and students may or may not find that it is for them. If you find it is for you the you will be in for a wonderful ride.

26-Sep-2015, 20:42
To anyone that's interested in learning a new process, regardless if it's "alternative" or "modern," I recommend that you stick with that single process until you have mastered it. I started learning the alternative processes with Cyanotype and once I got a decent print jumped to the Kallitype, Van Dyke, etc., until I got to the salted print which I thought would be around a week. But for some reasons I kept coming back to the salt print even though I had purchased the chemistry for the Ziatype. After several months I mastered the salt print process but still keep on printing with the salt process even though I know I should revisit the earlier processes that I worked with to truly master those as well and, of course, to the Ziatype before the chemistry expires.


Wally H
27-Sep-2015, 15:43
Jim - easy for you to say
Sandy - when is your next workshop (or I'll be forced to visit Jim)?

Jim Fitzgerald
27-Sep-2015, 16:04
Wally, I will be closer when we move to Vancouver Washington at the end of the year. Then being retired I can offer workshops on a regular basis.

27-Sep-2015, 16:48
I would suggest watching Jim's videos on the subject, very informative.

John Jarosz
27-Sep-2015, 19:53
+1 to the 10th power on Sandy's comments

Wally H
27-Sep-2015, 20:42
That's where I started - Jim's videos. I blame him.

Jim Fitzgerald
28-Sep-2015, 06:29
Wally, I'm good with that! I told the people I work with that when I retire they can blame everything on me as well. Now getting back to the OP's original question about B&S tissue. I've used a roll and I found that it was not for me. It depends on how you start out I feel. I think it is important to control the process all of the way. They make a nice tissue and it does take some of the time out of the process but this simple step is critical I feel to creating your"look" to your carbon prints. I jumped in with both feet and thanks to Vaughn with his help and encouragement I was on my way. If you can see a print and especially a negative this will help and it will get you hooked. The thing with carbon is that it is addictive once you see a decent print. Once you create a beautiful print there is no going back and the time becomes a non issue. Yes, there is so much to learn and know but before you know it the years go by and you are a carbon printer. You have to find what works for you and if carbon is for you be ready to spend a lot of time and by all means take a workshop. It will help with the understanding and save some time.
Good luck.

28-Sep-2015, 07:56
Thanks everyone for the great information!! I would love to attend a workshop and I might be able to squeeze one in next year.

Thanks again,

Wally H
28-Sep-2015, 11:07
OK - a question. Any idea where one can see a good carbon print, especially in the midwest?

John Jarosz
28-Sep-2015, 15:07
The Art Institute of Chicago has a print viewing room. You can call & schedule a visit and request prints you'd like to see that you itemize. Their staff will pull the prints from the collections and have them ready for you at the appointed time. When I did this they weren't that well versed in photographers that did carbon prints. I have no idea how they are now. It might be better to call and speak with someone directly, but I'd have a list of names for them to search. Thomas Annan, Adolphe Braun, are two artists I remember seeing. They don't have a lot of carbon or carbro prints, but they have some and it's free.



Fr. Mark
2-Oct-2015, 21:54
Not in the Midwest but in Rochester, NY, the George Eastman House has a wide assortment of everything photographic. I was going to spend a day there this summer but plans had to change for a funeral trip. They even have three and maybe four color carbon prints! And just about any master and about any print or negative process. They welcome people to make appointments and help you pick good examples etc. the staff was really good to me in the pre-planning process. I really need to find time to go.