View Full Version : Q: Fiber Paper / Glass Sheets for Drying

5-Apr-2005, 12:34

I enlarge 4x5 B&W negatives to 8x10 and 11x14 on RC paper. I'm planning to try Fiber paper for the first time; am planning to buy a 25-sheet pack of Bergger VC-NB Glossy and also Oriental Seagull VC Glossy in 11x14. I'm also planning to use the Ilford Archival Wash approach (5 min wash, 10 min wash aid, 5 min wash) to save water.

I've browsed this forum and have found that several people dry their Fiber prints by attaching the wet (squeegeed) print to a sheet of glass using tape such as 3M Artist Tape for Watercolor Paper. I understand this aids in helping the paper dry flat, and also eliminates the dry-down effect experienced with fiber paper.

In my search, I didn't come across any answers to some of the following questions. So a few questions to those who use this approach:
<li>Can you briefly summarize the approach you use? I've read some people let the print lay on a fiberglass screen for ~30 minutes to let it dry a little, and then tape it to the sheet of glass.
<li>Do you (or is it okay) to use both sides of the glass? I don't make more than 6 prints in a session, so is it best to get 3 or 6 sheets of glass?
<li>If I use both sides of the glass, then I'll have to stand the glass up instead of letting it lay flat - will this create a problem with drying flat?
<li>Since 11x14 is the largest print I make, I suppose a sheet of glass that is 13x16 would be large enough. But how thick does it need to be? Is 1/8" thick enough? Tempered glass is probably the safest way to go, but is more than double in price; so I'll probably use untempered and be careful.
<li>Since the dry-down effect is supposed to be eliminated, then I suppose that I need to make the print with the detail I want in the highlights -- so there is no need to test for dry-down effect?
<li>Any other tips or advice?

I'll probably mount the prints using photo corners, although in the past I've used the 3M adhesive (not spray) with RC prints and have had success, but I don't know that the 3M product is archival.

I'm hoping the approach above works as I don't want to spend $$$ on a dry-mount press.

Thanks in advance for any help or advice,


Louie Powell
5-Apr-2005, 13:17
I dry my FB prints on fiberglass screens. They are reasonably flat, but certainly not perfect. It is relativly simple to flatten them in a heat press, and I choose to present my finished work in dry-mounted form. I used to use the 3M spray, but gave up when I recognized that the tendency for the edges of double-weight FB prints to curl will almost certainly the edges of larger prints to eventually lift away from their mounts.

There is no method of drying that will produce permanently flat prints. They may be flat initially, but that will change with changes in atmospheric humidity.

I am familiary with the process of drying on glass plates although I don't use that process. Prints dried in this fashion are flat initially, but will eventually acquire a curl unless they are mounted in a way that inhibits curling. A prractical limitation for me is the logistics of purchasing and storing a quantiy of glass plates.

One critical point - I don't believe that drying on glass plates has any affect on the drydown effect. That's a characteristic of the paper that you are going to have to understand and compensate for regardless of your choice of drying methoc.

Gem Singer
5-Apr-2005, 13:57
The idea is to dry fiber based paper slowly, allowing air to circulate on both sides of the paper. Squegee the excess moisture off of both sides. Lay the print face up on a porous surface that will allow the air to circulate to both sides (like fiber glass window screening). DO NOT force the drying process by using warm air. The prints will curl excessively. The emulsion side will dry faster than the base side. The prints will curl slightly. When the prints have air dried (usually over night), stack them emulsion-to- base, and press them under a heavy weight for several hours. I use an unopened package of 16X20 mounting boards. It makes an excellent press. For perfect flatness, FB prints need to be dry mounted or held flat by matting and framing.

As far as eliminating the dry-down effect, the method used to dry the prints has no bearing on that effect. Compensation for the for dry-down effect needs to be done as part of the final exposure under the enlarger.

bob carnie
5-Apr-2005, 14:58
I agree with Eugene and Louie, dry down will be the same whether you use glass or screens. Any local framer should have a hot press who would let you have time on it to flatten prints. Humidity or better yet lack of is a constant problem when drying prints here in toronto. I always hot press between two sheets of archival board. ( I do not have any problem with the way you are planning to dry with glass.

5-Apr-2005, 15:06
Drying on glass seems like an excessive waste of money spent on glass that could break the first time you use them. My recommendation is the same as Eugene's. Go with the fiberglass screening material and wash them now and then. They dont break like glass. I have been using my screens for over 10 years now and plan on using them for a long time to come. I routinely make 16x20's and they are flat enough but I run them thru a dry mount press to assure better flatness. Pressing in a dry mount press is the only way I know to make fiber prints flat.


Mike Davis
5-Apr-2005, 16:49

You dry emulsion up? I've always done fibre emulsion down on the screen. When I was using a communal darkroom, I would wash, squeegee, and then put my prints into a drying book to take home. Once home, I used clean fiberglass screens and dried emulsion down (to hopefully keep dust off the emulsion side.

Gem Singer
5-Apr-2005, 18:03

Yes, I now begin the drying process with the squeeged prints face up on the screens. When the emulsion feels dry (it dries before the back of the print), I turn the prints face down to finish the drying process. That's a trick that Fred Picker taught me many years ago. There is no hardener in my print fixer. Sometimes, I would find marks on the emulsion side of my prints- an imprint of the fiberglass screen in the soft surface of the emulsion. Those marks were impossible to remove. No more problems with surface marks since I began following Fred's advice. Of course, my drying screens are located in a dust-free area.

Brian Ellis
6-Apr-2005, 06:16
Are you sure this taping method isn't something you read about that's used by alternative process folks rather than people printing on fiber base paper in a "normal" darkroom? Some alternative processes such as gum require processing in multiple steps and taping the paper to dry in between steps is one way of trying to keep it from shrinking. But it's one thing to use that method for alt processes, where you're usually working only on a print at a time. It's another to have enough glass on hand to use it with the ten, fifteen or twenty prints that may come out of a day or night in the darkroom when you're using silver paper.

FWIW, I've tried the blotters, I've tried the newspaper, I've tried the heavy books, I think I've tried all of the usual methods of drying prints on FB paper.. Several ways can be used to dry fiber base prints satisfactorily but with all of them the paper ends up with wavy edges and so doesn't really look "flat.".The only method I've found that will eliminate the wavy edges is to put the prints in a dry mount press for a few seconds after they have been dried in whatever way you choose (screens being the method I used). And another FWIW - I dried them face up too, for the same reason as Eugene mentioned.

6-Apr-2005, 08:22
I appreciate all of the responses - they are very helpful.

I hope someone who uses this method regularly will reply; it seems that the
majority of responders above don't use this method, which is interesting in
itself. In any case, I think I'll try it out and use it as a learning

Regarding the question if this applies to a "normal" darkroom (and not
alternative processes/etc):&nbsp; the answer is yes from what I can tell. There
are several postings on this forum which reference this approach for a "normal"
darkroom.&nbsp; And yesterday I did a search on APUG and this is the most
comprehensive information I've found so far:

Its definately not for someone who needs to crank out
prints, it does work very well, apart from the change of paper surface with
glossy papers...I dont like high gloss anyway so its perfect for me

6-Apr-2005, 08:48
By all means try it on glass for the learning experience, but also try the screens followed by pressure when dry too. Watch out for pressing Ilford MG Warmtone while it's still wet - the emulsion tends to stick! (been there; done that; wasted 2 prints and half a sheet of mountboard; then decided to read the Ilford documentation which clearly says not to do that...).

Also try hanging them, two prints back-to-back with 4 to 8 wooden clothes pegs along the sides to keep them together (not had much luck with this myself but some like it).

If you are mounting your prints without a dry mount press, use corner mounts and an overmat and the print should stay reasonably flat in the frame once pressed as flat as possible. As you will see, the curl tends to be at the edges after flattening, with the centre fairly flat, so a wide border on the print helps too; you can always trim a bit off if you like.

bob carnie
6-Apr-2005, 09:00
J medlock

The method you describe is a good one and suggest that you do this, however humidity or lack of will change the curl of the print, the flatness you describe using this method will work.
I have heard of silver print workers using this method. go for it.

Gem Singer
6-Apr-2005, 09:17
I do not see any mention that this method of flattening prints will prevent the dry-down effect. Have I missed something?

It certainly does seem like a very labor intensive and finiky method of flattening FB prints. Pressing the prints under a weighted surface or placing them in a dry-mount press for a few minutes seems like a much more practical method of obtaining the same result, since the flattened prints will tend to curl again under humid conditions.

As far as my personal preferences, trimming the prints to remove the tape will make the finished sizes too small to fit into pre-cut mats. Also, I don't want to loose the high gloss finish on my prints. It seems to give them a feeling of depth that I cannot get with non-glossy surfaces.

6-Apr-2005, 09:37
Thanks again for the additional responses.

Yes, the text quoted from the APUG post didn't refer to eliminating dry-down
effect.&nbsp; But there are other posts on this topic which do describe this.&nbsp;
For example, the text below is from this forum:

<a href="http://largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/221005.html">
, 2001-03-21 03:43:13

Using glass/tape is tempting, so I'll give it a shot and see how it works.

ronald moravec
6-Apr-2005, 10:08
I put this on Photo-net a while ago.

Ironing will most likely not get rid of center bubbles or wavy edges. The trick is to dry the print evenly all over.
Without a Salthill or Burke and James dryer, the best way I have found is to squeegee, air dry 15 min emulsion up, place between photo blotters which are then placed between corrigated boards. Make a stack up to 18 in high. They will dry in 24 hrs. They probably will have a curl, but no compound curves. The machines mentioned are long discontinued, but they dried the prints by blowing air thru the corrigations. 24 hr turned to 3.

One person here says he uses a flat bed and releases the canvas every few minutes to facilitate even drying. I never could get it to work.

The only other method was a 3 foot diameter drum dryer fed by a canvas apron. The darkroom at college in the 1960`s had one and it worked.

Irons, blotter books, small drum driers, hanging by one edge , screens, are all YUCK.

I never tried glass, but did use a boxwood board purchased for mechanical drawing. Tape down 1/4 inch border. Very good results ,but slow as I only had one board.

One of the old 4 foot diameter belt feed drums also works well. They were both gas and electric heated. I was unsucessful with the small diameter home ones. The big one was in a college darkroom in the 1960`s. Probably can`t get one of these either.

pablo batt
30-Dec-2008, 09:05

yes it works well

important to allow the print to drip dry for 30 min approx to allow the shrinkage to be controlled a little, or the paper can tear the tape once shrinkage is taking effect

then use a mister to wet the tape , and attach to glass with a 5 mm overlap on the paper

use a piece of flat wood to hold the glass, this way it will not break so easily

i think that it may work with perspex but there is a risk of scratching and possible buckling of the perspex as the print dries under pressure
hope this helps

30-Dec-2008, 09:20
usually i take my prints
when they are a barely wet and mostly dry
and i put them back to back between clean masonite or
countertop. they dry flat. if they are small enough
i stick them back to back betwen masonite boards
in my nipping press (cast iron book making press ).
that works well too.

30-Dec-2008, 13:21
I have had bad luck squeegeeing prints, so I simply hang them by a corner for a few minutes until most of the surface water has drained, then lay them on fiberglass sheets. Drying varies wildly depending on the humidity. More humidity = slower and flatter drying.

Drew Wiley
30-Dec-2008, 19:51
I squeegee the prints on a sheet of plate glass or melamine, then air dry them face
up on fiberglass screens. After they are dry I place them under a heavy sheet of plate glass to flatten them for several days. Then they are put into storage until I decide to drymount them. But prints will always eventually curl to some degree unless they are under compression or firmly mounted. Some brands of paper are worse than others. But it's a simple fact that if two sides of any kind of paper are
of a different composition, then there will be difference degrees of humidity absorbtion, and therefore curl. Every picture frame shop on the planet knows this (or else they'll be out of business fast). That is why fiber-based prints are routinely
drymounted. Spray mounting isn't archival, and it certainly isn't healthy. Read the
MSDS sheets. Non-emulsion prints, however, such as Pt/Pd are often hung "deckle
edged", suspended with paper hinges, just like watercolors often are, to reveal the
character of the paper itself. Very different kind of print. RC prints are yet another
problem, as are glossy polyester-based color prints. Each requires its own strategy
for mounting and display.

31-Dec-2008, 00:15
I use glass, and it works fine. It is slow, but that's not a problem for me.

1-Mar-2010, 09:45
Years ago, I saw a product (can't recall manufacturer) that was a roll consisting of layers of material one of which was a muslin (sp) -like substance which protected the emulsion. The FB prints would dry with a slight curl but at least they weren't wrinkled. Has anyone else seen this product and can it still be found?

Jon Shiu
1-Mar-2010, 11:46
There used to be blotter books and blotter rolls for drying prints.


Andre Noble
4-Mar-2010, 13:47
The first thing I do once I remove print from wash is to "wring out" water from the fiber print by rolling a clear acrylic brayer roller over the print as it sits on a flat glass or marble surface (I do so with a lot of pressure). Since the brayer is hard plastic and continually rotates as you push it across the paper - the action not only lightly squeggees water from the surface - avoiding the high friction across the emulsion of a typical rubber squeegee, but it also wrings water out of the paper - but the high pressure of the perfectly flat brayer roller further removes a good portion and any last vestiges of water solublized contaminents from the prints.