U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Aquapel (AKD) as paper size extract of response from Peter Blackburn

Aquapel (AKD) as paper size extract of response from Peter Blackburn

Hi All,

This is en extract from an e-mail written to me by Peter Blackburn. I think that this could be the answer for those of us who have problems with the 'normal' hardened gelatine route. Peter does sy that dilution is the key and that using straight from the bottle will prevent ANY pigment sticking to the paper. 


..... Aquapel (a trademarked brand name for a type of AKD produced by Hercules) was the AKD used by Fabriano for their Uno papers, and now their Artistico papers. So I was able to get a quart of AKD form Hercules in a formulation suitable for paper. Essentially, AKD is an emulsification of waxy particles in water. It is inert (stable and archival), odorless, and nontoxic. It is used by the food industry to waterproof cartons for juice and milk. It is also used by the auto industry as a substance to help rain quickly run off windshields. Of course, the AKD is formulated differently for each of those applications.
The major problem hindering my research of AKD is that many patents surround both the formulation and use of the substance. Furthermore, most paper manufacturers (in fact, all that I have contacted) will not release any technical information concerning its use other then to say that it is an ingredient. They view it's use as proprietary information.
Another problem is that no one as yet fully understands what makes AKD migrate into paper to cause it's extraordinary sizing properties. Hence, there are some manufacturers who recommend heating AKD treated paper to about 105 degrees allowing the heat to "melt" the wax into the paper. Others say to heat the paper higher to about 200 degrees allowing the vapor to perform the action. Others recommend time aging.
I wouldn't say there is such a thing as "normal" dilution. AKD will respond differently in different papers depending upon the other ingredients already in the paper and how the AKD is "cured". 2% may be fine for one paper and not another. I've read reports up to 15% used. I should say here that Fabriano Artistico is my primary paper. The AKD incorporated in the paper, as with most AKD paper, is extremely robust; i.e. will not wash out even after prolonged soaking. Therefore, I do not usually add additional size. I simply use pigments which are compatible with that paper of which there are quite a few and more than sufficient to produce tricolor work. I believe my images on the web speak for themselves.


However, when I wish to insure protection of important highlights, I use a 1:5 dilution of the AKD I have which now happens to be supplied from Twinrocker. That dilution is what I use for Fabriano Artistico Extra White—it most likely will be different for other papers. As for the heating issue, simply use a "warm" iron or, as I do, place the sheets into a sunlit parked car (especially one without tinted windows) for about an hour or two. Experiment with the dilutions until you find one that works for you. Used straight out of the bottle, it acts as a block. As you dilute, it begins to function as a resist in which interesting textures and effects are possible. Further dilution will function as a size. It's my opinion from practical working that heating the treated paper to about 105 degrees is sufficient and effective. Keeping AKD refrigerated when not in use will greatly extend it's shelf life (from months to years).


I have a small bottle and will certainly give it a try when I get home to Turkey.

Hope this helps