U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: On topic: myth or reality?

Re: On topic: myth or reality?

On Thu, 20 Dec 2007, Yves Gauvreau wrote:

...I'd like to do this [gum printing] with my
hands as you do but I know it can take years to master and I don't know if I
have that time left in my life. At least I have woodworking where I can
express myself with my hands and I find that very rewarding.
Yves, The business about gum printing taking "years to master" is pure baloney, worse than anything Photoshop could invent when it's full of it. I've taught literally HUNDREDS of space cadet undergrads & more than a few brain-damaged orthodontists, actuaries and librarians to make gum prints to their heart's desire in a couple of lessons.... The SECRET is you have to know what you're doing and start with first things first.... (matching the negative to the medium is one of them).

That is, do not believe the myths invented by self-styled "experts" with a book to sell, including folks who've never done a gum print in their lives but need a chapter on gum which they cut and paste from some other off-the-wall chapter on gum.... WORST of all, the VERY VERY worst being the Paul Anderson "gum pigment ratio test," which not only has NOTHING to do with gum printing but causes IQ loss just from reading the instructions.

Another canard is "gum can't do fine detail." Apologies for repeating myself, but gum can print everything in the negative, provided you don't use paper the texture of tree bark... which kind of got to be the habit when folks who knew diddle wanted to get artsy.

Here are 2 suggestions...

Somewhere in Paris (I think the Biblioteque Nationale -- Bob Schramm will know) there's a collection of Robert DeMachy gums... I understand they're exquisite (they're certainly wonderful in repro). Go see them and get an idea of what a printer who learned gum printing from a couple of sentences in his camera store from a printer who'd picked it up pretty much himself -- in 1889 when gum printing was not yet an "art" medium -- could do. BEFORE THE INTERNET if you could believe ! Demachy experimented a few weeks and then got a gum print in the salon.

Then go to www.alternativephotography.com/books/js_post_factory.html That's the first issue of The World Journal of Post-Factory Photography, complete, courtesy of Malin (oops, spacing on her last name). This will tell you everything you need to know to make whatever gum your heart desires... Not that there can't be details and embellishments galore and maybe even more to come, but you can master those basics in... taking things easy, two days.

I'll add here in case Ryuji is with us that I was being FACETIOUS when I said I do gum prints in 16 bits. (The only 16 bits in my life is 8 quarters for the parking meter, and that goes to sainted husband who parks the car.) As noted, gum can print everything in the negative, but there is dot gain, maybe as much as going from a laser print of a photo to offset, tho it also depends on your mix, and if you're applying more than one coat, on your skill at re-register. If you want sharp sharper sharpest, as many on this list (and even the world at large) do, you may not choose gum for your main medium. However you should treat yourself at least for a while, because it is delicious and, far from being impossible to master, is the most forgiving medium in the canon (beyond pure fantasy). If you make a mistake just brush it off and coat it again.

PS to Sandy et al: As for voulez vous being all those words --- why only "ce soir"? What about love in the afternoon? (Tho I thought it would more logically be "veux tu" -- n'est-ce pas?)

bonne everything...