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Thread: How to finish, wash and dry fibre paper prints for exhibition and sale

  1. #1

    Question How to finish, wash and dry fibre paper prints for exhibition and sale

    I need to make some 40x50cm prints on (preferably glossy) fibre paper from 4x5 b&w negatives for a small exhibition.
    Some of these prints should also be sold there in small editions (5 prints per artwork).
    Due to budget reasons, I will need to use some cheaper paper, probably some Foma fixed or variable gradation fibre paper.

    So far I have never made fibre prints this big only RC prints of this and larger sizes.
    Also, so far my prints rarely had to be gallery/archival quality that could also be sold.

    So I feel I really have some catching up to do and learn how to make gallery/archival quality fibre prints.
    Especially all the steps that happen after fixing probably need improvement.

    So here are my questions:

    1. Does it matter whether I use variable or fixed gradation paper when it comes to archival quality?
    2. How do all the steps after fixing look like? Should I tone the paper? If so, should I use selenium tone or something else? I heared selenium toner is somewhat dangerous, how is it properly handled? How long and strong should I tone? How often an long should I wash? Should I apply any other chemicals after fixing, e.g. anti-static, anti-fungus wetting agent and/or hypo clear? May I use a squeegee for fibre paper this size?
    3. How do I dry the prints?
    4. How do I flatten the prints? I don‘t have a press for this size. Do you have some build instructions how I could build a cheap alternative?

    You see a lot of question, maybe there are some general learning resources you could point me that help get from start to finish with halfway decent results?

    Thank you very much! ��

  2. #2

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    Re: How to finish, wash and dry fibre paper prints for exhibition and sale

    1: No
    2: wash, wash and wash some more. Hypo clear after fixing and initial rinse light be a good idea to make the wash more effective. Washing is a diffusion process, so change water frequently and wash at minimum 20C. Toning is not a necessity, but personally I like how fomabrom responds to selenium. However, the result when dry is only a subtle difference between toned and not toned. Selenium toner isn't too dangerous, don't drink it, ventilate the place somewhat decently and wear gloves or use tongs. No spacesuit necessary.
    3: I like to tape them onto a glass surface with gummed paper tape, the kind used by watercolor artists. The prints fry perfectly flat that way, but you'll lose the outer half inch/centimeter because that's where the tape will be. You van matte over that edge though, so it doesn't have to be a problem.
    4: see above. I don't think it's a very realistic idea to expect to build a 40x50cm flattening press...well, maybe. A stiff board (e.g. ply, or OSB) and a heavy weight (let's say 100kg or more) and some time will get the job done. But I'd try the tape method if it's small editions anyway. It really flattens out the paper beautifully.
    YMMV, see what the others will come up with. There's many ways to skin a cat.

    Congrats on the show and anticipated sales, good job!!

  3. #3
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: How to finish, wash and dry fibre paper prints for exhibition and sale

    So I feel I really have some catching up to do and learn how to make gallery/archival quality fibre prints.
    I have been trying to do the same for over 30 years and still trying. It is not easy.

  4. #4

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    Re: How to finish, wash and dry fibre paper prints for exhibition and sale

    Quote Originally Posted by Kornscharfsteller View Post
    1. Does it matter whether I use variable or fixed gradation paper when it comes to archival quality?
    I've used both the Fomabrom 111 fixed and variable contrast papers. They are both very good. However, there's no real advantage to using the fixed grade papers. The Foma VC papers are very good and offer a finished product very much like the graded papers. Using VC papers has the advantage of not having to stock so many boxes of different grade papers. Fomabrom 111 might be cheaper, but I find it every bit as "premium" as other papers. The only thing I don't like about it is the slight yellowish tint of the emulsion; whites are brighter on Ilford papers. Otherwise, they are fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kornscharfsteller View Post
    2. How do all the steps after fixing look like? Should I tone the paper? If so, should I use selenium tone or something else? I heared selenium toner is somewhat dangerous, how is it properly handled? How long and strong should I tone? How often an long should I wash? Should I apply any other chemicals after fixing, e.g. anti-static, anti-fungus wetting agent and/or hypo clear? May I use a squeegee for fibre paper this size?
    For archival fixing of fiber-base papers, you have two choices. First is the Ilford sequence for optimum permanence that relies on short times in a stronger fixer, a long bath in the wash aid and shorter wash times. You can read about it here: https://www.ilfordphoto.com/ilford-o...nce-fb-papers/ . Be aware that if you use a one-bath fixing regime (and the Ilford sequence really is best this way), you will only get a capacity of 10 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10-inch) prints per liter. See page 4 of the Ilford tech sheet on their Rapid Fixer here: https://www.ilfordphoto.com/amfile/f...3/product/711/ . The entire document is well-worth reading carefully.

    Personally, I prefer to use the weaker 1+9 dilution of Rapid Fixer with a two-bath fixing regime, longer fixing times and a longer wash. It is both more economical and less hectic. The fixer capacity effectively doubled this way: 40 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10-inch) prints per liter through the first fixing bath before you need to discard it and replace it with bath 2. If you go through three or four cycles of replacing bath 1 with bath 2, two-bath fixing is even more economical.
    prints.

    My workflow is as follows: after the stop bath, give 1.5 minutes in fixing bath 1 (Ilford Rapid Fixer 1+9). Drain the print and give it another 1.5 minutes in fixing bath 2. If you want to selenium tone, you can transfer the print directly from bath 2 to the toner. Don't bother to tone just for permanence; the slight toning usually desired only partially protects the print. Better is to process well and not overuse your fixer. Anyway, tone in selenium toner till you get the tone you want (adjust toner dilution to give you a comfortable toning time). After the desired tone change has been reached, transfer the prints to a running water bath (I use a tray with a couple of small holes drilled in the bottom corner and a small hose feeding it with a low flow of water). Rinse for at least two minutes and transfer the print to the wash aid (Hypo Clearing Agent or Ilford Wash Aid, etc.). Treat in wash aid for 5-10 minutes with agitation. You can collect several prints in the water rinse tray and batch-treat them in the wash aid to save time. After the wash aid, transfer the prints to your print washer (I have a 12-slot print washer) and wash with running water for 30-60 minutes. I always use the longer time.

    Selenium toner can absorb through the skin, so wear gloves or use tongs (I usually use bare hands and tongs, never touching the toner with my hands). If you get toner on your skin, rinse right away. Clean up well after toning to avoid stains, etc. I filter, reuse and replenish my selenium toner. Use it till the toning times get too long for comfort then add a bit of concentrate to bring it back up to strength. Filter and store till the next toning session. Filter before toning too.

    Toning should be done visually, i.e., tone until you get the tone change you like. Experiment with a print or two to find what you like. I prefer just a slight tone change. Toner dilution controls the toning time. I find a toning time of 3-4 minutes comfortable; some like longer times. It's up to you.

    I often divide my workflow into two steps, printing and toning. I'll print, give fixing bath one and then wash and dry the prints (same wash time). When I'm ready to tone, soak the prints for five minutes then start with fixing bath 2 and the rest of the steps as described above. This saves space and you can edit out prints you don't like before toning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kornscharfsteller View Post
    3. How do I dry the prints?
    After washing, I squeegee my prints with a new, clean auto windshield wiper (reserved only for fully-washed prints). Then the prints are dried on screens, face-up. Some dry them face-down, but I've got screen marks from drying them face-down before. If you don't have screens, you can get simple do-it-yourself screen kits at your local hardware store and make some. Another alternative is to hang the prints, but they curl even worse then. I've never tried the "taping-to-glass" method, but that might be an option as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kornscharfsteller View Post
    4. How do I flatten the prints? I dont have a press for this size. Do you have some build instructions how I could build a cheap alternative?
    All my prints are made with a white border around the image. I then dry-mount the prints to museum-quality cotton-rag board. This keeps them flat for display and is the only way I really find acceptable. Dry-mounting tissue is tacked to the back of the print and then the print is trimmed with a rotary paper trimmer, which removes the border and cuts the tissue and print to the same size. I really recommend dry-mounting. If you don't have a press, maybe you can find a graphic arts studio, school darkroom or the like in your area that will either let you use their facilities or dry-mount the prints for you.

    If you decide to mount your prints another way, I'm sure there will be some other suggestions coming in subsequent posts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kornscharfsteller View Post
    You see a lot of question, maybe there are some general learning resources you could point me that help get from start to finish with halfway decent results?
    Get Ansel Adam's "The Print" (it's available as a pdf online somewhere for cheap) and read it cover-to-cover. There is also a lot of info on the LF homepage. Read that too. Do your homework first and save yourself a lot of time and headaches later!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kornscharfsteller View Post
    Thank you very much! ��
    Hope this helps,

    Doremus

  5. #5

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    Re: How to finish, wash and dry fibre paper prints for exhibition and sale

    You might check out Renaissance Wax. Some use it and others don't. Try some on a print and compare to the same print without it. Only way to know if it is for you is to try some.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  6. #6

    Re: How to finish, wash and dry fibre paper prints for exhibition and sale

    Wow, thank you all! I am always astonished how deep the answers in this forum are. Thank you again, you are helping a lot!

    One more question on the toning:

    You have mentioned that it would be feasible to do the toning of the finished prints later, after all prints have been washed at the end of the day or maybe on the next day when all prints have already dried.

    Doing the toning later would have the great advantage for me that the whole printing process could become less stressful (one bath, one tray less) and that I would not have an open tray with selenium toner in my darkroom for the whole day, my darkroom is not very well ventilated when it is in dark-mode™. Toning could be done in well ventilated daylight.

    If this is a feasible approach, can I leave the prints in the water for multiple hours until I’m done printing for the day or should I start drying the finished prints and then at the end of the day or the next day, re-soak the prints in water and then do the toning?

  7. #7

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    Re: How to finish, wash and dry fibre paper prints for exhibition and sale

    I don't recommend keeping fomabrom specifically in the water for hours. It softens the gelatin severely. Better take them out and resoak when you start toning. Other papers generally withstand long wet times better, but Foma apparently uses a rather soft top coat.

  8. #8

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    Re: How to finish, wash and dry fibre paper prints for exhibition and sale

    I like the idea of pivoting off of both what Doremus has recommended, and what Ansel Adams suggested in his books. Both involve fixing prints twice. Versus a 1+9, which results in a 10% solution of Rapid Fixer, I use a stock solution of Rapid Fixer mixed 1+1 with water, which results in a 12.5% solution of Rapid Fixer. Fix for 1.5 minutes in each bath, as Doremus has put forward.

    In using two-bath fixing, Ansel Adams suggested putting all prints through the first bath, washing them for some minimal time (15 or 30 minutes?), and then putting them on the drying racks.

    After drying, evaluate the prints for keepers, then fix only the keepers a second time. After the second fixing bath, immerse the keepers in hypo-clearing agent for the recommended time, and wash for 60 minutes. In this way, one saves time by fully fixing only the keepers, which comprise a small percentage of the total prints processed. Of course, use different (clean) drying racks for the keepers.

    I do not like selenium toning prints, so I don't do it. I don't like what selenium toning does to the tone.

    I know that the above washing routine will give one a margin of safety. Years ago, I used to give prints a 3 minute fix in stock Rapid Fixer mixed 1+1 with water, and then washed them without using hypo-clear for 45-60 minutes. After decades, prints that I fixed and washed in that manner still look fine.

  9. #9

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    Re: How to finish, wash and dry fibre paper prints for exhibition and sale

    Mostly as above...but during the drying process you need to avoid re-contaminating your work - so definitely do not press your prints under OSB or a stiff board as someone has suggested. Or, if you do use such a board, make sure to create a barrier between this and the prints with a piece of plastic or "sacrificial" archival paper, mat board, or foam core.

    To dry reasonably flat...you might try the "two clothesline" method: hang the prints from a tightly stretched cord, then stretch a cord underneath them and use additional clips from the bottom so that the prints are held under slight tension as they dry. If those clips are made of wood, just make sure that the clipped areas of the margins are removed prior to mounting.

    To help ensure that the prints stay flat after they are completely dry...you can indeed press them - but under something archival like a piece of museum mat board or foam core...and cover this over with a piece of plastic wrap so you can place a few books on top without contaminating the flattening board.

  10. #10

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    Re: How to finish, wash and dry fibre paper prints for exhibition and sale

    Quote Originally Posted by John Layton View Post
    so definitely do not press your prints under OSB or a stiff board as someone has suggested. Or, if you do use such a board, make sure to create a barrier between this and the prints with a piece of plastic or "sacrificial" archival paper, mat board, or foam core.
    If outgassing from the glues in e.g. OSB are a worry (I don't think they need be, but YMMV), the suggestion of a barrier is a good one. I'd recommend something like BO-PET for this.

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