U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: The Woodburytype and Stannotype Processes

Re: The Woodburytype and Stannotype Processes

I believe it was the Gerard Aniere who was working with the Woodbury. He worked with William Ingram at Metro in London. Metro was a big graphics firm and set up a shop in the basement for mostly platinum printing. If I remember he was using photopolymer plates as a both a matrix and printing plate. His results were intriguing but I think he had gone as far as the material would take him.

The problem with using light curing polymers is they are not linear. They are either binary, that is they shrink to a certain depth at a threshold of light or they cure and do not shrink. For most uses of UV curing polymers the goal is to have no shrinkage at all. Some of you may have had plastic fillings where the dentist held a light up to the filling and hardened it. It does not take much imagination to see how either shrinkage or swelling would not be desired. In the case of a polymer printing plate the idea is to either have a set amount of shrinkage or none at all. Polymer plates can be made of a digitally typeset page and printed like cold type. You get the slight impression in the paper and it is difficult to detect from a metal typeset page. There were even programs developed that would, to a varying degree, nick the type and add slight imperfections so the disguise was even better. You could crank up the faults to the degree it looked like a page printed from a very old and worn out font of type. Anyways, if you are making a page of type you are looking for an either/or situation as to shrinkage.

The stannotype process is intriguing as well. If contemporary reports are to be trusted it was as good as the std Woodbury process. Reproducing this today by the original process would be difficult as it relied on tinfoil. That's real tinfoil. melody always chides me for calling aluminum foil, "tin foil." If you can find it, it is extremely expensive, like $100.00 a square foot. This is because it is primarily used in high end science. I suspect aluminum foil could be used and may even be better than the original tin... But! What you get in a roll at the market is tempered. Aluminum can be tempered to various degrees. It is common and fairly inexpensive from industrial supplier in untempered form. Though I've only seen it in rolls up to 24 inches. You are gonna have to by a 1000 sq feet though! The foil from the market "sings" when it is rattled. Untempered is soft and mushy with no "sing."

Ok, you think alt photo is a bit crazy? Well there is a guy who makes tin foil in small widths in rolls for... are you ready for this? People who make Edison style photographs and need the foil to cover a waxed cylindar. Sort of tops the vinyl vs digital hi-fi crowd.

To make a stannotype you only need a few tons of pressure but still out of the realm of the home hobbiest.

I read one description from 100 years ago that was inventive to say the least. This guy put the tin on the gel matrix and made a two inch block of plaster. The plaster backing, matrix, and tin were bound up in a strong wooden clamp like device. Like a 4x5 print and bound in 2 2x6's on end with with metal clamps. Then the whole gizmo was put in large pot of hot wax to soak. The wax causes the plaster to expand thereby giving you the pressure.

Yes that was quite an APIS, there was a heat wave in Bath at the time. Like it was 85 outside, inside it was 100. We had fun though.

--Dick Sullivan

ack Fulton wrote:
Absolutely Cor. That is who they were and you're correct in regard to the pressure. You'll remember that lovely purplish warm color and the dimensional quality, ever so slight, of the sample(s). Really nice, and typical enthusiastic Dutch, fellows. I'll bet that somewhere in all my now well buried notes I have their names. But, somehow, I had felt they were on the way to finding out how to do it. Dick Sullivan may remember them as well.

On May2007, at 2:17 AM, C.Breukel@lumc.nl wrote:

From: Jack Fulton [mailto:jefulton1@comcast.net]
Sent: maandag 28 mei 2007 22:39
To: alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca
Subject: Re: The Woodburytype and Stannotype Processes

Do any of you who attended the first APIS gathering put on by Terry King in Bath?
A couple of men from I cannot remember where, came with examples of Woodburytypes and an
explanation of how they were made. they were also attempting to revive the process as I remember.
Like Luis Nadeau and the Fresson process, but perhaps better ascribed to the one no one really knows how to repeat it, the Autochrome by the Lumiere Bros., I don't think anyone alive today could make a Woodburytype . . . right?


I was there also..I think you are perhaps referring to 2 dutch guys; Johan de Zoete and jan van Dijk.

AFAIK they were trying to revive the woodburytype process, but were unable to do so because the press needed was not obtainable. It seems you need quite incredible pressure to make the Woodburytype moulds (sp?). I vaguely remember that there was once a message on this list of an australian guy (not sure) who had tracked down such a rusty defunct press, he posted a link to a few photographs..