New studio ready by September

This is my first post about the new studio, but, if you know me, you know this project has been in the works for a while. One section of the new building, the section to the left in the photo, is the studio. The section to the right rear is an apartment. The rent from the apartment will help fund the project.

The studio is a modest 240 square feet, but it is a dedicated and purpose built structure. I'll be able to move my printing out of my kitchen into a much larger and cleaner space with more consistent environmental control. The studio will also be an ideal place for me to hold workshops and I plan to start teaching there immediately.

I want to thank Smash Design Build for their phenomenal design and general contracting work on the project.

The People's Gallery and and After Six Presentation

I'm happy to have three carbon prints in this year's People's gallery exhibition. Through the end of the year, you can see my work, and the work of many other artists placed throughout Austin City Hall.

The prints selected were all based on street style images I shot in and around the Austin area. I've been invited to do a short presentation on the work as a part of the After Six series of presentations. I'll be in the group on August 25th entitled The Eyes of Texas with Gerard Juarez. For more information on the gallery and the series: http://www.austintexas.gov/artaftersix

 

October intro to alternative process printing workshop at UT

Hey kids! I'm offering my alternative photography intro course again in October.

UT sets the tuition, and these courses are an absolute bargain. About 120.00 for a four session course - including materials! This means I am hardly turning a dime, but they are a lot of fun to teach.

The course description includes cyanotypes, salt, and van dyke prints but I will probably introduce something new. Last time we winged it a bit and it made for a great learning experience.

Take a look: UT course listing 

 

East Austin Studio Tour 2015

I just registered for the 2015 East Austin Studio Tour. Last year was my first and it was a lot of fun and a success all around. The tour is a few months away, but if you are thinking about participating now is a good time to apply. Open call is open and there is a small early bird discount.

If you are thinking about visiting, please drop me a line. That said, my studio is always open. So, feel free to reach out if you are interested in prints, workshops, or looking for an atelier.

June workshop complete and another in October

My students and I just wrapped up an intro to alternative printing workshop offered through UT informal Classes and I will be offering a similar course beginning in October. Over four sessions, students learned the basics of alternative process printing and made handmade photographic prints in threes processes; cyanotype, van dyke, and salt. This was the first time I offered the course through UT, and it was a great success. The students had a great time, learned all the basic skills to print, and were eager to get started on their own.

I'll be offering the same course starting in October. This course will also be four Sunday sessions offered in one of the design studios on the main UT campus. While the objectives and the core material will be the same, I'll vary the processes we will learn. We'll print using a basic process like vandyke or cyanotype and possibly albumen. Details will be nailed down in the next couple of months. Look for the course to appear in the course listings and if you have any questions or request for the course, just drop me a line. Also, don't forget, I am open to organizing one on one and group workshops on carbon printing and other processes.

Make handmade prints of your very own, and be happy.

Make handmade prints of your very own, and be happy.

A couple tips on coating with a "puddle pusher"

The ink helps you see how good your technique is and how much sensitizer will cover a given area well. On the left you can see a dropper in a cup for measuring out the exact amount I would use to coat with real sensitizer.

The ink helps you see how good your technique is and how much sensitizer will cover a given area well. On the left you can see a dropper in a cup for measuring out the exact amount I would use to coat with real sensitizer.

This week I started getting set up to make some platinum prints again, and this time I want to use a glass coating rod instead of a brush. In the process I learned a couple of things you might find helpful:

1. I love Bostick and Sullivan, but the prices for their glass coating rods are high. Find a glass blowing shop or supply store and they will see you about four feet of rod in almost any size you want, cut to lengths you like, for about five bucks.

2. Practice coating some cheap paper or toss offs using water mixed with food coloring or ink. I used the india ink I set to make glop for carbon printing. The tint will help you see how complete and smooth your coverage will be. This will give you good practice before you start coating with the expensive metals and paper.

 

Alternative process into class at UT

This May I will be teaching an alternative process intro class through UT Informal classes. The class will be comprised of four three hours sessions and cover the basics of preparing images, making negatives for contact printing, making some salt and cyanotype prints, and more.

For more details check out the official class listing for Explore Alternative Photographic Printing. If you have questions about the course, just shoot me an email.

 

 

Some standard formulas for carbon printing

Some viewers of my carbon printing videos have asked me to write out some of the formulas for the carbon printing materials and processes I demo in my videos. Well, here you go.

These formulas will get you started. However, keep in mind that they can, and should, be changed as you develop aesthetic preferences and want to change your materials to match. For example, different pigments have varying tinting strength and will require different concentrations. A less concentrated gelatin sizing for art paper will provide a less glossy finish. To retain more or less moisture in the tissue, or change the pliability, the sugar can be varied. So, take these formulas as starting points and adjust as you learn.

Note: In the formulas, the percentages of ingredients are intended for calculating the weight of the ingredient as a percentage of the total volume of the solution. For example, a 10% gelatin solution would require 100 grams per liter and 1.2 percent pigment would be 12 grams. Distilled water is recommended, particularly if your water is alkaline. If you are going to spend hours upon hours making prints from your tissue, it's worth using water you know will be good. It also dissolves ingredients better. 

Glop for making tissue

India ink is a good pigment to start with. It is perfectly dispersed, easy to mix, and does not require you to do any extra straining or filtering of the glop after mixing. It produces prints with deep blacks, warm undertones, and a glossy finish. I use Speedball because it is easier for me to buy. It can be bought off the shelf at many art supply stores. Black Cat can be ordered from Dick Blick. Speedball is more concentrated and seems a bit more glossy in finish. The pigment percentages below are simply ones I have used in the past based on their relative concentration.

  • 10% gelatin (250 bloom or greater)
  • 1.2% Speedball india ink or 1.6% Black Cat india ink
  • 4% sugar
  • Water to make
  • 25 ml of isopropyl alcohol mixed 50/50 with water to make 50 ml (an optional ingredient added at the end which can help dissipate bubbles more quickly if you intend to use the glop shortly after mixing)

Art paper sizing

A 7% gelatin solution is easy to coat, sets up quickly to allow you to hang the paper to dry, and gives a reliable printing surface if the paper is thoroughly and consistently coated and the gelatin is hardened. Thinner or less concentrated sizing will provide a more matte finish but will be more prone to developing frilling or blisters on the print when developed.

Hardener for gelatin sized art paper

This is a topic of it's own see my blog post.

Clear

A 3% solution of sodium or potassium metabisulfite will clear the residual dichromate stain from the print. Soak the print for approximately 3 minutes or until the stain clears. Wash in clean water for several minutes afterward. The clearing solution can be reused.

Visit me on the 2014 East Austin Studio Tour

I'll be opening my home this year for the East Austin Studio Tour. The tour is held on two consecutive weekends in November - the 15th and 16th and the 22nd and 23rd.  Stop by to take a look at some of my work, chat, and maybe take home a print of your own. 

I'm just starting to prepare my selections for sale and plan for the event. I'll post updates for any special events as well as my venue and catalog number as soon as they are published.

My home is located at 1209 Eleanor, in Austin of course, and the zip code is 78721. If you have any questions, just shoot me a message or call or text 512 786 8076.

 

 

New video - Spotting Carbon Prints

For a long time, I was terrible at spotting prints. To make matters worse, carbon prints have some properties that make them particularly difficult to fix. After nearly giving up, I developed some techniques that have worked well for me and have helped me save prints I would have sadly sent to the trash bin. 

In this video on my YouTube channel, I cover some of the challenges, techniques, and spot a recent print.


Carbon printing part six - development

Here it is, the development of the print. The results are good, but not perfect. If you remember, I bumped up the contrast in sensitizing and exposing. This bump rendered perfect tones in some areas of the print, but blew out the highlights. The print also also suffered from a little frilling and a few small bubbles. While I was hoping to get a perfect print in one take, these faults illustrate a couple of common problems in printing carbon. I will likely print this image again and do a seventh segment in which I compare the prints and diagnose the faults in the first.

Carbon printing part five - exposure and mating

In this segment I expose the tissue through the negative and then mate it to the final paper support. When watching this you may get the impression that you have to have a UV for the exposure. Like any alt process, you can use a contact frame and expose using sunlight. However, a UV unit with a light integrator is one of the best investments you can make. Watch and learn more.