[alt-photo] Re: pigment problem

Julian Smart juliansmart at virginmedia.com
Wed Feb 9 20:36:40 GMT 2011

Hi Loris,

Nice to finally talk to you.

My method of sizing is to pour 100ml of distilled water into a jam jar to 
which I add my 4g of gelatine. I let this rest until the dry gelatine has 
absorbed as much water as it will. I then heat this in a small saucepan of 
water on the stove until the gelatine has melted and the liquid looks clear 
and runny. I am very particular about this as I have occasionally found 
small bits of debris in the mixture, which I am sure to fish out. Once 
ready, and the liquid never goes even close to boiling point I will add my 
formaldehyde- started off trying six drops but I'm now down to 2 or 3 
(doesn't seem to make much difference to how the paper prints).

I have previously taped down, on the kitchen table my first piece of paper. 
Onto this I pour an amount of gelatine into the middle- the amount being 
gained through experience.The jar goes back in the pan which is now removed 
from the heat. Having previously wetted and shaken mostly dry the brush in 
the water I use to heat up the gelatine (to heat up the brush) I quickly 
cover the whole paper surface as evenly as possible with the liquid gelatine 
using a 3inch hake brush which incidentally has the date 1st October 2001 
written on it by myself- this brush seems almost indestructable!
Working quickly I brush alternately landscape and portrait until I feel the 
gelatine is drying into the paper. I get quite heavy handed with the last 
few passes until I can see from the sheen on the paper it is ready. There is 
a distinct point at which I stop, which is intuitive to me now after over 12 
years of gumprinting. The process takes maybe 1 1/2 or 2 minutes- the 20 
minutes I mentioned before equates to 5 minutes per print which includes 
faff time such as running upstairs to hang the print up in my workroom, 
taping down another piece of paper, re-wetting the brush, retrieving and 
drying the outside of the jam jar etc.

This process has worked perfectly for me ever since I started gum printing 
and I have never found a more satisfactory method of sizing so don't want to 
change anything. The formaldehyde in the gelatine should in theory work just 
as well as a secondary formaldehyde soak. Of course, another variable could 
be the actual paper. I'm using Artistico 300gsm HP and have occasionally 
found with older sheets or batches some slight internal mottling. At this 
point I can't rule it out but I have a fresh batch that looks perfect to me.

My original post was about not getting a coat of W+N Indigo to stick and 
most people suggested it was a sizing issue. I'll stick my neck out and 
suggest it's not as I coated two prints last night with a different pigment 
(Indanthrone PB60) and got two perfect coats on the same prints that 
wouldn't accept the Indigo, all other variables being constant.
Still puzzled!!


> I use sponge brushes, soak a generous amnt. of gelatin + hardener mixture,
> and brush it quickly and evenly on the paper. I dip the brush another time
> into the solution if the amnt. in the first pass wasn't enough. I try to 
> do
> it very quickly and my papers are at room temperature. (I size indoors...)
> Sizing a half imperial sheet wouldn't take more than 1-2 minutes in my
> workflow. (At max! More like ~1 minute usually...) Your expression "20
> minutes for 4 1/2 imperial sheets" makes me think you're working quite
> slowly, maybe because you don't use a sponge brush can holds a generous
> amnt. of sizing solution... The slower you work, the more you risk gelatin
> setting / uneven application.
> Try to work a little faster and make sure the paper is not too cold while
> you apply the sizing...

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