Van Dyke: Wash Cycle and Drying
Okay, the other piece that I recommend when you're working with the van dyke process is when you're drying the print, just like before with the cyanotype, you're gonna want to take the print, you want to make sure it is completely, completely washed. The actual fix of the fixes left in there, it can also cause some changes in the print quality and make it less archival. There's a weird discussion in the way photography works. We need all the fix to be removed for it to be permanent and archival, but yet a little bit of fix left in the paper makes it more archival. So if you start to read in-depth into this, you can quickly start chasing your tail like a dog. The general rule to think about is, I want the fixer out of my paper. So we come out of that fix and you did not watch that step, which is why I want to emphasize it. It's then gonna go into another water bath that you didn't see because it's off-camera that Gina's taking care of. That wash needs to be 20 to 30 minutes and even if ...
I go into a hypo clear, I still am gonna wash for 20 to 30 minutes and it's not a high-powered wash. So don't take your garden hose and be spraying off the paper. It's literally just a light flow of water across the paper or a multiple-cycle change of the water, about a change of eight to nine times of the water in the tray, which you're gonna do some gentle agitation. You're gonna shuffle the prints if you have multiple prints and then cycle the water that way if you're in a water conservation effort. A lot of water gets wasted in darkrooms by people in many ways, over-washing their work. So there's a point where you are over-washing. So somewhere in that 15 to 20 minutes of a low water volume or several cycle changes of the water. The other piece in the wash cycle that I like to do is everything in this process I've been doing face-up so I can watch what's happening and experiment with the different pieces, but in the wash I like to cycle the prints and I keep them back-to-back. So I don't want emulsion-to-emulsion because that's where the chemistry is that I want to leech off and I want to wash off. So I make sure that the prints are always stored back-to-back when they go into a wash cycle and it doesn't matter if it's cyanotype, platinum, van dyke, any film, silver gelatin, they're always back-to-back and then that way, the water that's flowing around is actually moving across the surface that's been sensitized. Then I shuffle those prints so that the print that's on the bottom gets to come to the top, they get flipped. So there's a randomization to that in the water because I'm attempting to also create kind of a random water flow so that the different images will cycle through and move that way. Once the prints come out of the wash, if your paper's strong enough, again, you can just clip. A van dyke is not doing anything to the paper to make it anymore delicate, like a cyanotype, same thing. So if you can hang and clip the arches platine and let it hang dry, that's fine, or you can put them on those screen surfaces to let them dry. The other thing you can use is, Gina, can you bring me the blotter book?
So this is another thing you can get which is called a blotter book and we used to see these a lot in the silver gelatin darkroom because you would wash your prints and they wouldn't be dry and you wanted to take them home because you needed to drive somewhere. So there's this thing called a blotter book and what it is is a book that comes in a variety of different sizes and it has the tissue paper. And then, this is a really heavy art paper, like a really heavy watercolor paper that'll absorb water. So basically, your gonna hang your print dry and get as much water off or a squeegee. So if your in a place you can squeegee the back of the print, lightly squeegee the back of the print, and then you can stick it in here and stick it between the tissue paper and the heavier paper, and then you print a print, and then you can stick them into the blotter book, and then you can transport them this way. But this will also help them dry and store that way. So you get images that can be moved so if you're working in a lab somewhere or you're working in friend's house or something, you can take these and then you can move forward with that. But a blotter book is a great thing. I've had this for years and years and years and it has moved hundreds of prints and has held up reasonably well. It's starting to fall apart a little bit, but it's not a one and done kind of purchase. You can hold on to those for a long time.
In a world where most photos are captured digitally it’s good to remember the beauty of print and all of the creative options alternative processes have to offer. The history of printing photos introduces techniques and tools that can improve your eye in the field and open up doors to new perspectives. Fine artist and educator Daniel Gregory gives the steps needed to get you started in exploring the many formats out there. You’ll learn:
- An overview of what alternative processing is and the many formats out there
- How to create a digital negative
- How to setup and test your curve
- How to print a Cyanotype
- How to create a Van Dyke Print
- Chemistry, Safety and Developing techniques
- Platinum and Palladium Printing processes
In this introductory course, you’ll be given the key elements to get you started in expanding your creativity and exploring alternative photographic processes.