U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | RE: A few gum things

RE: A few gum things

Christina, here's my funny and I guess this is topical.

Back in the late 70's or early 80's I taught gum classes in my garage
workspace. The space was primitive to say the least. The classes were taught
through the non-profit CameraVision Gallery. As I was looking at the checks
I saw that one student's check was printed Lydia Clark Heston and Charlton
Heston. When I talked to Lydia she preferred that she just be plain old
Lydia. Lydia usually came with her studio assistant but one day she came
alone and I knew she does not drive so someone mut have brought her. At
nearing the end of class in walks Mr. Heston to drive her back home. I
introduced him awkwardly as Lydia's husband and there was no sign of obvious
recognition. Most people have seen celebrities up close and realize that
often without makeup and film lighting they look quite different. After they
left, one of the students asked, having some sense of familiarity with the
face, "Who was that? 

I said, figuring he knew, "Moses." 

All I got was a puzzled "Huh?" 

Heston had spent the intervening class time in a nearby neighborhood bar
called the Tonga Hut. It's still there with Tiki torches outside and all!
That must have been a hoot.

He came as her driver a number of times after that, but I don't think anyone
realized who he was. At the last class we had some Champaign and showed
prints and Lydia was talking about shooting Charlton on the set and the cat
was out. Several students asked him for autographs and later I "apologized."
Heston said no need to. When he was in college as a drama major he dreamed
of the day when someone on the street would walk up and ask for an

Lydia did make some really nice gum prints but I don't know if she ever
continued making them. 

--Dick Sullivan

-----Original Message-----
From: Christina Z. Anderson [mailto:zphoto@montana.net] 
Sent: Sunday, April 06, 2008 2:15 PM
To: alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca
Subject: Re: A few gum things

Wpw, Henry,
Thanks for this--I will try the extreme dilution thing asap!

I totally agree about the yellow.  I try to forbid myself from developing 
the yellow layer at night because invariably I wake up the next day and the 
resultant print turns out too yellow biased. If I err on any layer, it is 
development of the yellow.

LOL I have to tell you a funny.  The first time I taught gum in my alt class

a la PDN, the students felt pretty bogged down with curving gum AND learning

it, and I only had 2 final projects in gum at the end of the class.  The 
next time I taught gum, I had one non-curved/low tech assignment in gum and 
then went into gum curves and I had students who really wanted to explore 
monochrome, duotone, tricolor, etc. etc.--in other words, more assignments.

SO, this year, I assigned these assignments:  one layer monochrome uncurved 
gum, duotone uncurved, tricolor uncurved, tricolor curved, and then tricolor

curved over cyano.  The overwhelming opinion from the students was to start 
out with correct curves because when they finally got to the curved gum 
prints it was infinitely easier to get a good print!

I always learn and morph with my students....next time I will do one carbon 
black uncurved monoprint and go right into curves.

Now, some other gum things:

Two, with offlist correspondence a gummist struggled with gum immensely, 
specifically the blue layer staining horribly and/or not releasing, and 
finally bit the bullet and sized with glutaraldehyde-hardened gelatin. 
Presto, perfect gum print first shot.  I have had this experience with a 
number of offlist gummists.  Photographer's Formulary now sells glut, but it

is at a 25% (!) strength so must be cut down to 2.5%!  If used at 25% it 
requires less than a ml of that per liter!

I decided this fall/winter to size a bunch of paper a la formaldehyde, 
because I really wanted to compare the two (glut and formalin) side by side.

Hey, formaldehyde works great.  I sized my paper with gelatin inside, then 
went out into my garage and hardened in a bath of 100ml formalin to a gallon

water.  Hung all my papers to dry out there.  When fairly dry, I brought all

the sheets inside the house and hung them in the bathroom.  I was not 
prepared for what happened.

My garage was about 40 or so degrees.  My bathroom was 70.  The formalin 
outgassed horribly, so bad that I had to slam shut the bathroom door and not

enter because my eyes stung horribly.  Glut does NOT outgas at that low 
temp.  Another plus for glut!

Well, it wasn't a question of not entering the bathroom again.  I slammed 
the door shut so hard the doorknob locked on me and I could not get the door

open even with picks and screwdrivers and wrenches so my son in law had to 
come over and remove the door handle and replace it.  By that time all the 
outgassing was past.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Henry Rattle" <henry.rattle@ntlworld.com>
To: <alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca>
Sent: Sunday, April 06, 2008 11:41 AM
Subject: A few gum things

Over the past month or two, Iıve been working through the PDN process for
tricolour gum (for the second time, but this time doing it properly, and
avoiding ³shortcuts² that turned into dead ends). I really enjoyed the logic
of PDN and the way it makes you look at every step of your working
procedures, and also the fact that it actually works!

On the way I learned a few things which most of you probably know, but might
be of some use to someone. Here they are:

1. Thereıs a use for that long-neglected darkroom masking frame - itıs
perfect for holding paper flat for brush coating.

2. Donıt develop and clear gum, especially yellow, by the light of a
low-energy compact fluorescent bulb! One evening I ³cleared² a yellow
pigment layer in a room lit by an energy-saving bulb. Next morning, by
daylight, the pigment layer was all still there! I looked up the emission
spectrum of these bulbs. There are spikes and gaps in the spectrum
everywhere - (see for example
http://beale.best.vwh.net/measure/cf-spectrum/index.html, or
http://home.freeuk.com/m.gavin/grism2.htm). These lamps emit blue, green and
red wavelengths, but in particular there is almost no yellow. I should have
known this - I studied physics - but experience is a better teacher...

3. The best way for me to clear a gum print in a reasonably repeatable and
controllable way is to use a gardenerıs hand-held spray-mist (thank you,

4. For tricolour prints using gum over cyanotype, Iıve found that
traditional cyanotype, used at full strength, is just too strong a colour to
balance with watercolour pigments. However it works fine if you dilute it.
Diluting 1 ml of (A+B) with between 5 and 7 ml of deionised water gives a
good medium blue. Once diluted, it needs less exposure than full-strength
(1+7 was 2 stops faster than full-strength A+B) and it also needs a
significantly different PDN curve. (Again, thanks Christine for offline

With best wishes