Re: Freeform gum (Re: Gum printers in UK (Re: Scott McMahon gumworkshop, September
Thanks, Loris, that's what I was hoping to see, other definitions of
what freeform gum is. Our definitions are rather different. Has
anyone seen a formal definition of this, or is this such a vageuely
defined term that we all have different definitions for it?
The way I read your definition, almost all gum prints qualify as
freeform; that portion you exempt (simply reproducing the printing
press's actions by hand, as you say) seems to me the least
interesting way to use the gum process, although I did tricolor
prints that way for almost a decade, during the 90s. I eventually
got bored with the rote tedium of it and stopped producing such
prints. I told someone I felt as if I were working at a factory or
something; it had stopped being fun or interesting to me.
A year ago or so, a person wrote to ask me if I have any "freeform
multicolor or tricolor prints" available for sale. I wasn't sure
exactly what he meant by freeform, but I didn't have any work of any
kind on hand and had just moved and my workshop wasn't set up yet, so
the answer was an easy no, I didn't have any multicolor or tricolor
prints of any kind available for sale. I described the work that was
hanging in galleries at the time, which was mostly monochrome, which
didn't interest him. Then later, when I did have multicolor and
tricolor prints on hand, I had forgotten about him, and now that this
discussion has triggered my memory, I don't have anything again, and
won't til after I've finished painting the laundry room in my new
house. But at any rate, I wouldn't have thought of my duochrome or
tricolor gums as "freeform" because like Livick (at least from what
I was able to gather of the distinction he was making) for me it's
the use of color separations, or any kind of negative that separates
the colors, that distinguishes freeform from not freeform for me. So
any print where a negative or negatives separate the colors doesn't
qualify as a freeform; my definition requires selective application
of color or selective development to separate the colors.
But this makes me curious; I'm going to hunt up that person's e-mail
and ask him what he meant by free-form. I'm really curious now
whether this term actually has a definition, or if it just means
whatever anyone chooses to think it means.
On Aug 20, 2007, at 12:29 AM, Loris Medici wrote:
I see... Makes sense.
Nevertheless, I tend to include the method "separation by using the
negative - with different colors - for multiple printings" into the
classification of "freeform" -> especially when one doesn't use stock
gum/pigment solutions (mix / add pigment by eye, instead).
one can change the order of colors + the colors + printing times
dichromate amounts to get very different results with the same
To me, only prints made [using strict separations (either duotone
/ CMYK) + using strict gum/pigment solutions + using automatic
development] don't quality as freeform -> these are simply reproducing
the printing press' actions by hand - with the freedom of choosing
colors... (Manipulating the image in development such as using a
sponge, water jets / turkey baster ect... would allow the print to
qualify as "freefrom".)
Of couse, this is a highly subjective view open to discussion...
From: Katharine Thayer [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, August 20, 2007 9:58 AM
Subject: Re: Freeform gum (Re: Gum printers in UK (Re: Scott
Actually, when I mused that maybe this isn't a freeform gum, maybe
it's done with "a separation negative of some sort," I wasn't
thinking just of tricolor separations but of anything that separated
the tones into a separate negative, in addition to a possible color
separation. But certainly c would work too. The question was, if
it's a freeform gum, how was the color separated? None of the
answers below assumes a freeform gum, but all are certainly possible
ways of achieving it with "a separation negative of some sort;"
even "c" uses the negative to separate the colors rather than
separating the colors in application or development. (When
tentatively defining freeform gum, I was only thinking of separating
the colors by selective application; I hadn't thought of separating
the colors in development as Damiano did; that's very well done).
On Aug 19, 2007, at 10:37 PM, Loris Medici wrote:
Not that I think I have a better idea but will list some solutions
look probable to me:
a) Making duotone (or tritone, or quadtone) separations. My color
/ duotone knowledge is limited, so I can't say if one could design
duotones profiles giving results similar to the image in question...
b) As Katharine says -> making tri-color separations... (Coloring
in image editing program...)
c) Using a fairly high contrast negative and printing the
midtones and shadows in different colors. Shadows could have been
printed using a fairly opaque color or a color that gives green when
printed over earth colors - if possible... (Again, I don't know if
are such opaque greens - or if there's a color which will give green
when printed over earth colors... A transparent blue?)
I would first try (c) then (b) and (a)...
From: Katharine Thayer [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, August 19, 2007 10:40 PM
Subject: Freeform gum (Re: Gum printers in UK (Re: Scott McMahon gum
Hence David's question about how one would get such a nice separation
of the green, in the absence of the use of color separations. One
possibility is that maybe that image isn't a freeform gum but is done
with a separation negative of some sort. Otherwise, I don't know
how it could be done.
Hope that's helpful, and as I said, I hope if someone has a better
idea, they'll say so. Katharine