U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | OT:Gum Workshops

OT:Gum Workshops

Hi Carmen,


First I would mention that I teach tri-color gum workshops occasionally at a community art center here in Atlanta. The center is equipped with a pretty spacious darkroom with a large sink and two nice UV BLB printers with plenty of contact printing frames. So in that respect I don’t have to worry much about infra-structure and equipment. And since I teach using digital negatives they also have an Epson 1280 printer, Epson 4990 scanner and PC with Photoshop available for use.


My workshops are 2 plus days long. I schedule weekend classes only; 3 hours on Friday evening with 8 hours on Saturday and Sunday. The cost is $175 per student plus $50 lab fee. I split the $175 with the art center. I require a minimum of 3 students to make the workshop and a maximum of 5. I do occasionally perform one on one workshops at my home where I am fully equipped. The fee is a bit more as you might expect,. $375 including supplies. But the instruction is more in depth and tailored to the student’s previous experience.


Having a short weekend to teach in requires me to have as much of the material as possible prepared in advance. I don’t know if you gum print with sized and hardened paper but I do. So I prepare all of the paper prior to the workshop. I do a demonstration about how I mix the gelatin and use a cheap sheet of Lenox to demo the sizing with a foam brush. The Lenox is thrown away shortly after the demo and isn’t used to make prints. This avoids exposing the class to fumes from the hardener (gluteraldehyde) since our work area is confined and not well ventilated. And of course saves class time eliminating the need to allow sized paper to dry.


I demonstrate how I mix gum from powder. I use pre-mixed tube water colors with gum. So here is my basic workflow for the workshop.


1)       Friday evening

a)       Short intro about gum printing covering the basic steps using a Power Point demo – run time about 15 minutes.

b)       Brief discussion about making digital negatives explaining the big picture and that the class isn’t about learning how to create digital negatives.

c)       Review student images, digital files or film. Scan film if necessary.

d)       Using Photoshop start printing digital separation negs for two images per each student.

2)       Saturday

a)       Continue printing digital negatives if necessary.

b)       Demo the mixing of gum solution from powder. Same for dichromate and water colors. Show the class how to size paper.

c)       Begin demonstration of gum printing. I have an image that I will have printed in various stages for tri-color. We start by showing how to print the cyanotype layer.

d)       Demo the printing for the yellow pigment over cyanotype preceded with instructions about how to mix gum, pigment and dichromate. I handle all of the mixing of the gum/pigment/dichromate to avoid accidental spills of dichromate solution. I then show students how to brush the gum/pig/dichro on to the paper. Expose, process and quick dry.

e)       Demo the printing for the magenta pigment over the cyan/yellow pigment. Expose, process and quick dry.

f)         Get the students printing their first cyanotype layers.

3)       Sunday

a)       Get the students printing their negatives for gum layers.

b)       Work through the day on two images of their own quick drying the paper after development. Tackle and development processing problems and demonstrate physical development.


I try to work the students hard and keep them involved with the entire workflow. Since this an intro class I spend as much time as possible with students doing hands on printing. I have a detailed handout on disk for them to take home. And I insist that all cell phones and Blackberry’s be turned off for the duration of the class or be prepared to suffer my wrath if they use those inside the classroom or darkroom!


Let me know if this helps and if you have any questions.


Good luck,


Don Bryant