U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: bromoil boot camp

Re: bromoil boot camp

Hi Gord,
Yeah, we did; we used his brushes, the ones shaped like a stag foot or something? What I learned was that the ink really only goes on the very tip of that brush, not on the whole bottom, and you do all the motion with that tip--hopping, stippling, walkabout, etc. So the tip needs to be springy. One of the students got the softer haired brush (is it, fitch?) and the ink up detail was much finer with the finer hairs, so I was able to see the benefit of different hair in the brush, too.

Having done a bunch of bromoils a couple years back that were pretty poor, I realize part of the reason was too much ink and using a roller/brayer. So for me, the brush made a huge difference, as does non-supercoated paper. Also not using a hydroquinone based developer which hardens gelatin, and really at every step of the way watching your technique--distilled water in the bleach bath instead of tap to eliminate the variable of water, etc. etc. It's somewhat like gum in that sense--so many variables that if you start "tight" with the variables and then loosen up you can more easily figure out what is wrong.

As soon as I "loosen up" I will try Ilford supercoated, using a regular paper developer, etc., and varying the ink softness to accomodate, plus using other brushes like shaving brushes and such. But for now, tight is the way to go until I get proficient. I am sure there are many on this list (Ed Buffaloe, for instance) who are very loose with their technique at this point.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Gordon Holtslander" <gordon.holtslander@usask.ca>
To: <alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca>
Sent: Sunday, August 26, 2007 10:40 PM
Subject: Re: bromoil boot camp

What did you use for brushes? I'm slowly exploring oil printing and have been
trying a variety of locally available brushes.

The old literature I've read suggest people used very specialized brushes.

Did you use anything special?


On Saturday 25 August 2007 06:22:26 pm zphoto@montana.net wrote:
Dear All,
I am finally done with my wonderful 2 weeks in the North
Carolina mountains--at Penland
School where David Lewis taught a bromoil intensive.

First, the school is excellent--the food, a full 3 meals a
day, is worth the stay.  It is out in the middle of buck
nowhere, so the chance to do your art full time is perfect.
Most of us 10 students worked from 9 AM to about midnight
every day.

David was a trooper as well as a total HOOT.  He stayed up
with us almost every night.  I did notice cocktail hour out
on the patio of the photo lab getting sooner and sooner each
night as the group warmed up to one another!

All 10 of us got "exhibition" quality bromoils in that span
of time--in fact most of us got about 10-15 prints done to
satisfaction.  We learned to start small and work up to
bigger ones.  I learned in several days enough to leave the
workshop and feel I got my money's worth.  I really enjoyed
David's dedication to teaching us. Of course, I started
experimenting around with all kinds of Chrissie-techniques
heheheheheh...no wonder he had to start cocktail hour early.

One ingenious thing i will share with the group--he hit upon
Kirkland Ink Jet Paper available at Costco as being a
perfect digital negative substrate for bromoil.  I thought
it might be less sharp or whatnot (show paper fibers, etc.)
but I'll be darned--I calibrated bromoil while there on an
Epson 1280 printer (I missed my 2400) a la PDN, got a curve,
exposure time at F8 was about 26 seconds at the enlarger
height I was using (135mm lens) so certainly times were not
excessive.  The bromoils were as sharp as ever.  And in the
span of time I could print out 20 (!) different digital
negatives and go in the darkroom, press the enlarger button
for a 26 second exposure and  develop, the others were
dinking around with one image or two and test strips.  A
plug for digital.

At 17 cents a sheet of 8.5x11 this is a STEAL compared to
Pictorico. David is going to try to see if the manufacturer
would produce bigger sizes of this substrate, but the name
of the manufacturer is not on the box except that the
company is in Switzerland.

One more thing--those with limited resources can apply to
assist at Penland and get room and board and the workshop
for free.  I will not say it is easy--I am pretty
exhausted--but the price is right.  You can also work-study
there for a session and the same applies but the much
cushier position is teaching assistant because you do not
miss classtime to prepare meals and such as the work-study
students have to.  If I was younger, work study would be
fine.  Many of the people are returning students so the
experience is certainly life-changing in ways and quite

Assistant Professor of Photography
Photography Option Coordinator
Montana State University
College of Arts and Architecture
Department of Media and Theatre Arts, Room 220
P.O. Box 173350
Bozeman, MT 59717-3350
Tel (406) 994 6219