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Thread: Sizing for Carbon.

  1. #1

    Sizing for Carbon.

    In reading the various tutorials on the carbon process. one thing that stands out is warnings about sizing for the process, and Sandy King's suggestion to fix out some photographic paper if one is just beginning to explore the process. Is sizing for carbon really that difficult? Now that it's getting warm out here, I'll be able to do the gelatin/glutaraldehyde thing. I do have some photo paper I could fix out, but I really like some of the papers that I've been using. As a secondary question, does a PVA size not work at all with Carbon?

  2. #2
    500+ Posts earlj's Avatar
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    Sizing for Carbon.

    Doug:
    Fixed out photo paper is the place to start. The gelatin of the carbon tissue sticks by far the best to photo paper. This takes one variable out of the mix when you are trying to learn this challenging process. It is really frustrating when your image will not stick to the final substrate. I have not tried PVA size for carbon - my guess is that in order to put enough of it on the paper for the carbon transfer to stick, the paper would look awful. You need quite a lot of gelatin size for carbon transfer - the carbon tissue sticks to the gelatin, not to the paper fibers. Sandy King uses 8 or 10 percent gelatin for sizing art papers - I have seen his prints, and the amount of gelatin size makes the paper shiny.

    Carbon also sticks to Yupo pretty well, but it is not quite as reliable as photo paper. I would start with a pack of RC paper for learning the process. Will you be pouring your own tissue, or are you starting with some Bostick and Sullivan tissue? You should join Sandy King's Yahoo group, and read all the posts about sizing.

  3. #3

    Sizing for Carbon.

    Thanks Earl. I guess I'll fix out some photo paper to start. I'll be pouring my own tissue since I want to learn that as well. I do have some experience working with gelatin as an adhesive, and I have a pretty good method for keeping it liquid. I'll be doing the magnetic frame method Sandy King outlines.

    As far as tissue goes, Sandy King recommends Yupo, and I like the idea of it. Is there an advantage to either weight of paper?

  4. #4
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    Sizing for Carbon.

    I use a crock pot water bath with a two liter beaker to hold the gelatin while I pour. I monitor the temperature and turn the crock pot on and off as necessary. I use a magnetic sign material frame, and I pour on a sheet of galvanized steel so the magnetic frame sticks. I use Yupo for the tissue support, as it is reusable. I don't think that it matters what photographic paper you use. I was given a big roll of long expired fiber based paper that works well - keep your eyes peeled for a deal. Once you get the hang of the process using fixed out photo paper, then you can tackle art paper with gelatin size.

  5. #5

    Sizing for Carbon.

    Doug,

    I second starting with fixed out photo paper. I use watercolour papers for my final prints and my preferred method of sizing is to coat the surface of the paper with a 3% gelatine solution using a foam brush, let the paper dry, then repeat and let dry again. I then paint the surface with a 10% solution of formalin (done outside) and then let the paper hang as individual sheets in my garage for at least a week; do not be tempted to stack it early once it is dry as the formaldehyde takes a considerable time to 'de-gas'.

    I recently put a stack of 6 sheets into a folder after 2 days of hanging and even after a week of storage, the tiny amount of formaldehyde remaining was enough to harden the gelatine of the transfer during the tissue mating (only half an hour) and it took boiling water to develop the image!

    I pour my own tissues and do not use a frame, rather I squeegee a sheet of thin paper to a wooden board and employ the 'hold your breath and spread the glop' method and after lots of glop on the worktop, have got the hang of making tissues. Do not underestimate getting the tissue support level before you pour as if the tissue is thin on one side, it is really easy to cook the gelatine right through to the base when exposing, resulting in the tissue tearing from the support during development.

    I just zap my gelatine in the microwave for a few seconds to melt it. I dunk my finger in and if it feels only just warm, it is usually good to pour. If the glop was too cool and it sets up during the pour, I put the board with the tissue on under the grill for a few seconds (or hold it outside in the sun on a hot day) until it just starts to flow again and then get the board level again quickly (or find a cloth to mop up glop...)

    Best regards,

    Evan

  6. #6

    Sizing for Carbon.

    Thank you Earl and Evan. I do have access to to some old, outdated paper. When I inherited my father's darkroom (which I used when I was a kid) there's a stack of photo paper. (There's also lots of other cool stuff since he was a scientist and borrowed from his lab for the darkroom). I hadn't thought of Yupo being reusable, that's another nice thing too.

    We'll see in the coming weeks how it all turns out...

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