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

Re: A few gum things

Okay, well, I may as well fess up. I have been toiling away here teaching myself tri-color gum, and e-mailing innumerable people on this list whenever anything goes wrong (in other words, emailing on an hourly basis).

I initially tried unsized Fabriano which actually worked pretty well . . . until it didn't. I don't know what happened, or maybe it was just specific pigments, but I got pretty good results there for a minute. Then I tried the gelatin and glyoxal, which I really didn't like-- for all the reasons Don mentioned. I even tried unsized gelatin. I have no idea what possessed me to do that. Don had mentioned glut to me some time ago, so I bought some. I sat and looked at the bottle for a long while, but never opened it. I guess I wanted to avoid the addition of one more toxic element.

I then went to my local art store, and bought some gesso. The man who owns the store (who is an artist) asked me what I was doing. I guess I looked confused. When I told him, he gave me a bottle of Gamblin PVA, and told me I should try that. He said he'd give it to me if I promised to come back and tell him how it worked, compared to the gesso. The PVA was pretty dilute to begin with, and I didn't know if I should dilute it more-- but I tried it (diluted), and it actually worked very well. I think I tried a second layer, and it didn't work so well, so I'm thinking I shouldn't have diluted the initial coating, or perhaps one has to coat between layers when using PVA? I'm not sure, but I'm going to go back and try it again. If anybody has used it and knows, I'd love to know more about how I should be using it (diluted or not). I did like it very much. I also tried the gesso, but I think I didn't dilute that enough. The print looked great for about 30 seconds, and then the whole thing washed off. I want to go back and try that again. I much preferred the PVA, though-- both the consistency and the ease of using it-- goes on very smoothly.

So I went back and toiled away and made some more really bad prints, and then stared at the bottle of glut a little more. Both Don and Chris had told me how much they used, so I used it at their suggested dilution, and had no problems with it at all. I wear gloves the entire time I print in *any* alt process-- from start to finish-- and I'm working in a fairly well-ventilated space. I did do a little research on glutaraldehyde, and while it certainly isn't risk free (is any chemical?), it has nothing on dichromates. Of course, one has to be smart, careful, and take precautions when using any of these chemicals for alt processes. I show them a great deal of respect.

My main reason for writing, though, is to say that once I tried the glut, I *finally* had success-- and repeatable success. The glut does seem to make things smoother, with absolutely zero staining. It worked like a charm. I made the most beautiful little tri-color gum print, and I attribute it all to glut . . . and to all the people on this list who helped me-- including Katharine, Sam, Don, Chris, Judy (her PF articles), and Jim Latimer, and probably more. I've been bugging people right and left about this.

Tri-color gum has got to be one of the more frustrating processes I've ever attempted, but once I got a print exactly the way I envisioned it-- I want to do more. I can certainly see why it's so seductive.

Of course, I figure anything as good as glut has got to be bad. So I'm being very careful, but I am here to say it worked incredibly well. So, thanks also to Ryuji for first mentioning it.

Also, I would like to experiment with the gesso and PVA again, too, so if anyone has done that, could you let me know about proper dilution? Thanks.

As an aside, I enjoyed that story about the Lydia and Charlton Heston.


On Apr 6, 2008, at 11:00 PM, Don Bryant wrote: