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Thread: Wet Plate Collodion questions answered here.

  1. #1

    Wet Plate Collodion questions answered here.

    New to the Wet Plate Collodion process? It can be intimidating, and there is a steep learning curve. If you have questions (and you will!), the more experienced members here can hopefully answer them for you here.

    Paul

  2. #2
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Wet Plate Collodion questions answered here.

    Tell me about egg white plate edge application
    Please
    sin eater

  3. #3
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Wet Plate Collodion questions answered here.

    I'm waiting for the materials and some hardware to arrive. B&S 4x5 wet plate kit shipped today.
    Film holder, tank, plates and lens are coming soon.

    I started this back in 2015, managed to get 2 good plates out of the 40 or so I tried, and decided to shelve wet plate as my daughter was starting to walk and get into stuff.
    I'm not sure why it stopped working for me after the first few promising plates. Maybe the silver bath and my home-made tank didn't get along. Maybe I mixed something wrong. I never found out and sold my gear soon after.
    Back then I had very few troubleshooting resources, but I'll be posting here when I can with any and all questions.

  4. #4
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Wet Plate Collodion questions answered here.

    I look forward to your participation
    sin eater

  5. #5

    Re: Wet Plate Collodion questions answered here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Can View Post
    Tell me about egg white plate edge application
    Please
    Ahh yes, “edging the plate”. What is this and what is it’s purpose?

    It’s the application, by Q-tip, of a dilute solution of egg albumen and water to the outer 1/8” of the cleaned surface of a piece of glass, prepared for making an Ambrotype (positive image on glass) or a negative.*

    What is the reason for doing this? Even on a meticulously clean Piece of glass, the collodion doesn’t want to adhere tightly, especially at the edges of the plate. By applying a thin band of dilute albumen to the outer edges of the glass, the adhesion of the collodion is greatly improved. If the collodion is going to lift off the glass, it always starts to peel away at one of the edges, so this prevents that from happening. You still have to be meticulous about cleaning the glass**, but edging with albumen is the final step that guarantees adherence.

    Materials:
    One egg white
    500ml of distilled water
    A glass jar for storage
    A whisk, or equivalent.

    How to:
    Separate the egg white from the yolk, and discard the yolk. Do not get any yolk in the whites or you’ll have to discard it and start again!
    Put the egg white and the distilled water in a very clean (preferably glass) bowl and whip it thoroughly. Discard the frothy part and pour the clear portion in a jar for storage (lasts in the fridge for about 6 months). I use small mason style jars which have a metal lid, so I put a film of thin plastic over the mouth of the jar before fitting the lid; exposure to metal lids can induce rust which you don’t want.

    To apply the albumen, just dip a Q-tip in the solution, and run the Q-tip along the top edge of the glass to leave a 1/8” line of albumen. It takes some practice to find a way to drag the Q-tip along the edge to make a clean line, but it’s not difficult.
    Allow the albumen at least ten minutes to dry, and you’re ready to pour collodion and make a plate. You can prepare several pieces of glass days in advance and that won’t be a problem. I like to have 8 or 10 plates prepped and in the rack, ready to use at any moment.

    *the main difference between an Ambrotype and a glass collodion negative is the density (a negative takes about two times as much exposure as a positive) and the formulation of the developer used.
    ** Cleaning a piece of glass involves not only a thorough scrubbing with a mixture of Calcium carbonate ("whiting", or powdered chalk) in water and alcohol, but the edges of the glass should be "de-burred" by rubbing the sharp edges, both top and bottom, with a sharpening stone (or equivalent), to take off the sharp edges, and make a rough edge that helps the collodion adhere to the plate. Some people use sandpaper to de-burr the edges, and that works fine too. I prefer a sharpening stone because it will last for years and is a more precise tool for the job, IMO.

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    Re: Wet Plate Collodion questions answered here.

    I avoid applying albumen by making the edges of the glass rough with sandpaper. The emulsion just needs something to hang onto so it doesn't slide off the edge.

  7. #7

    Re: Wet Plate Collodion questions answered here.

    Quote Originally Posted by cuypers1807 View Post
    I avoid applying albumen by making the edges of the glass rough with sandpaper. The emulsion just needs something to hang onto so it doesn't slide off the edge.
    Yes, sometimes the rough edges can be enough to hold the collodion to the glass, but I have had an occasional plate shuck the collodion, so I like to edge with albumen, that way it always sticks. Edging with albumen adds an extra step, its true, but it takes a few seconds to do it, so I think its worth it. By all means, see if you can manage without the albumen edging, but the plate has to be meticulously clean to succeed.

  8. #8
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Wet Plate Collodion questions answered here.

    This is an issue for me. Years ago I bought 200 5X7 glass plates to use for Dry Plate, per Denise Ross http://thelightfarm.com/ Lost momentum and never used them

    I used Howard Glass http://www.howardglass.com/index.html on the recommendation of someone here

    I had them polish the edges, they packed them very well with interleaving paper and extremely clean. I still have them...and they fit my wood plate holders

    So, I suppose I will need to test and see if albumen is needed

    I also need to test if they are clean enough right now

    If not I ordered the Lund Cleaning clamp, as I tried a normal twin screw clamp and realized it was a waste of time

    One day perhaps we can copy and paste this new thread into a better home...
    sin eater

  9. #9
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Wet Plate Collodion questions answered here.

    I've had good luck sanding the glass edges with a belt sander to help the collodion stick. I also round the corners just a hair. I consider it necessary to avoid little cuts to the fingers while handling the plates anyways.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  10. #10

    Re: Wet Plate Collodion questions answered here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Can View Post
    This is an issue for me. Years ago I bought 200 5X7 glass plates to use for Dry Plate, per Denise Ross http://thelightfarm.com/ Lost momentum and never used them

    I used Howard Glass http://www.howardglass.com/index.html on the recommendation of someone here

    I had them polish the edges, they packed them very well with interleaving paper and extremely clean. I still have them...and they fit my wood plate holders

    So, I suppose I will need to test and see if albumen is needed

    I also need to test if they are clean enough right now
    Wet Plate clean isn't the same as "clean from the supplier", I expect. The issue here is that to clean glass for collodion, the surface has to be lightly etched by an abrasive, which is what the calcium carbonate is. Anecdotally, I gather some people have had success by putting a load of glass through a dishwasher cycle and found that sufficient, but I have not tried it myself, so I can't say if that works or not. I prefer to stick with tried and true methods and use whiting and elbow grease.

    Frankly, I wouldn't waste the $$ on a cleaning clamp. Its quite unnecessary. You can get a piece of rubber hobby mat and just lay it down on your work surface and it will hold the glass without risk of breakage. For 8x10 glass, I place a damp tea towel on the kitchen counter and clean my glass on that. The damp towel holds the glass very nicely. The plate vise Lund sells is for standard thickness window glass, NOT the thin stuff. Without support under the thinner glass, it will break when you attempt to clean it.

    What is the thickness of the Howard glass? I've considered buying their 1.3mm glass, but I found my local dollar store sells 8x10 picture frames that have 1.2mm glass in them (sometimes its closer to 1.5mm), so that's what I use these days. Its the same thickness that Jason Lane uses for his dry plates.

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