View Full Version : Making a contact printing mask

Scott Walker
3-Feb-2011, 10:56
I am trying to decide whether to use an enlarged 4x5 image or an 8x10 contact print for the print exchange. The dilemma I am having is that I really dislike the look of an 8x10 contact print on 8x10 paper with that stupid black border. The 4x5 is simple, enlarge to about 8x10 and print on 11x14 paper which gives you about a 2 inch white border, the easel blades make nice crisp edges to the image and that makes me happy. To contact print on 11x14 paper with an 8x10 negative without a mask of some sort leaves a giant black border which is even uglier than that stupid little black border on 8x10 paper.

So I made up a masking frame using a piece of 11x14 picture frame glass and some black duct tape which crops the negative about 1/8 inch on all sides. Duct tape on top of glass, negative taped by the corners with scotch tape to the bottom of the glass. The resulting contact print on 11x14 paper is perfect and exactly the look I was trying to achieve……..as long as you view from about 10 feet away because any closer and the jagged edge of the duct tape shows up.

I assume there is an easy way to achieve the look I am after with crisp edges but after a very long search on this site as well as on Azo Forum and a google search I came up with no results.

Since I am still without (but hopefully have one on the way soon) an 8x10 enlarger, contact printing is my only solution for 8x10 negatives.

This is a scan of the not so crisp edge left by the duct tape.

Any help would be greatly appreciated

Oren Grad
3-Feb-2011, 11:01
Try mylar tape on the same side of the glass as the negative. You can use black tape on the other side if necessary for a complete light seal, but the mylar tape on the negative side establishes the picture edge.

3-Feb-2011, 11:18
Why not cut one out from a black matt board and position it on top of the paper?

3-Feb-2011, 11:33
That's not a jagged edge, it's faux deckled! sorry...

Maybe some VCR tape or exposed and fixed film would work.

Marek Warunkiewicz
3-Feb-2011, 11:38
Rubylith... works for so may things, this inlcuded.

3-Feb-2011, 11:42
I have some old vintage Kodak printing frames that have adjustable masks. The masks are thin sheet metal that slide on a rail on the outside of the frame to adjust. If you could find one for 8x10 they would solve your problem- but I have never seen one bigger than 4x5.

3-Feb-2011, 11:49
I have not yet need to try it But the tape that I used in my
1HR lab for taping the film to the leader card is about like
a Rubylith with a good clean ege


matthew blais
3-Feb-2011, 12:01
Yep...rubylith or graphic arts film, which I have many sheets of (opaque orange)

Cut with xacto and very clean lines.

Scott Walker
3-Feb-2011, 12:18
Thanks for all the replies.

As I was trying to solve this problem last night the first thing that came to mind was frisket which I use for airbrushing but it's not quite light proof. :rolleyes:

And that was it, complete mental block from that thought on.......apparently I retained absolutely nothing from the printmaking electives I took at ACAD......I used Rubylith (or a similar product, don't recall brand names) on plates. :o

Daniel Stone
3-Feb-2011, 12:25
electrical tape on the contact frame's glass, or just tape it to the negative itself.

if you don't feel like doing that, why not just TRIM THE CONTACT PRINT?

just wondering.

who said it "has" to be 8x10in? most 8x10 paper isn't exactly 8x10 inches anyhow, especially fiber paper after dry-down


William McEwen
3-Feb-2011, 12:46
Why not just TRIM THE CONTACT PRINT? Who said it "has" to be 8x10in? Most 8x10 paper isn't exactly 8x10 inches anyhow, especially fiber paper after dry-down.-Dan

Makes sense, but I prefer to have some kind of border on unmounted prints.

Stieglitz would often trim the borders off, then dry mount it to the back of a discarded print, leaving a small amount of white all around.

Then -- he usually used rubber cement to mount this onto rag board.

Scott Walker
3-Feb-2011, 13:07
if you don't feel like doing that, why not just TRIM THE CONTACT PRINT?

On an unmounted print I like to have about a 2 inch white border for an 8x10 print, just a personal preference. Also on a trimmed print the edges get damaged rather easily if the print is not mounted.

Scott Walker
27-Feb-2011, 16:45
After all the effort it turns out I like the jagged edge better......go figure

27-Feb-2011, 19:37
Litho tape