From: Kerik Kouklis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: 07/22/03-11:43:47 PM Z
OK, let me chime in here...
No, Stuart is not on the list. I would guess one reason Stuart doesn't
participate in the list is the attitude expressed in Cactus Dave's post. I
really don't understand the anger...
While Stuart has been leading the charge in the pursuit of a smooth,
detailed gum print, he and I have been collaborating very closely over the
past 2 years on this process, talking on almost a daily basis on the phone
(I am in California and Stuart is in Santa Fe). Stuart wrote the article
for ViewCamera more than two years ago in the early stages of his work with
the process and it was based on existing "standard" gum printing techniques.
That was the point of departure that lead to the following 2 years of
experimentation and discovery. We were after a certain look, rather than
creating a 'new' process. We wanted a smooth, creamy tonality to the gum
without any of the grittiness or roughness that is OFTEN associated with
gum. We were looking for something we'd never seen in gum prints before. Not
that it didn't EXIST, just that we hadn't seen it or any information on how
to acheive it.
When Dick Sullivan (also in Santa Fe, if anyone doesn't already know that)
began to see the prints Stuart was making, he began raving about them here
and on his web board. Justifiably so!! I'm sorry that Dave is annoyed, but
the reason we haven't posted information to the list to this point is that
the process was continually changing as things progressed and it seemed
pointless to start giving out details until we felt the process was 'done'
because there were so many changes along the way. We began preparation of a
book, but that has been put on the back-burner due to time constraints. We
are going to try and get something distributed either as a small printed
booklet, or perhaps a PDF or a website.
Now, PLEASE UNDERSTAND that we are NOT claiming that this process should
replace anyone's working method who is pleased with the results they are
getting. If, however, someone is interested in very smooth gum or
combination gum/platinum/cyanotype/etc. prints and is having trouble
acheiving that, this works very, very well. No one is claiming this is the
Holy Grail or the Only Way. Like, Duh!! But it works for us and several
other people working this way now.
Stuart first caught wind of the "dry dichromate" approach from some guy who
knew a guy in Finland (I think) who was working this way. There's nothing
new under the sun.
Basically, the idea is that dichromate is added in powdered form in
proportion to the amount of gum in the solution. Ed mentioned 20% Ammonium
Dichromate (2 gm in 10 ml gum). That is in no way a standard. We often use
up to 30% on first coats with lighter pigment loads and longer exposures for
highlight tones (no mystery there) and lower concentrations for higher
contrast on later coats, or shifting to potassium dichromate at various
concentrations up to about 11% in later coats for more contrast. We also
add some water (~10% to 25% of the gum volume) to the mix. This obviously
creates a gum solution a little more viscous than using equal portions of
gum and saturated dichromate solutions. This allows very rich, smooth gum
layers, but caused some minor flaking at first, especially on later coats.
We found that adding a little bit of Rafael's Miracle Muck (really!) seemed
to prevent flaking. Muck is basically a white glue and I'm sure other types
would work. But I defy you to find one with a cooler name! I also add some
ethyl alcohol (Everclear) to the mix. I don't think Stuart is doing that any
A key breakthrough came when Stuart was out here in CA. He had tried using
foam roller brushes earlier in his experiments with lousy results. He had
used an open cell foam roller (yellow) that left tiny speckles of gum
sensitizer behind. Also, a how-to book by a well-known gummist clearly
states that foam rollers DO NOT WORK*.
Suspecting a tighter celled, smoother foam roller might work, we went to the
local hardware store and picked up a couple brands, one black and one white,
that turned out to work beautifully. Laying down the gum coat became
completely predictable and smooth, almost without fail. Oh, we also filter
the gum solution through fine silk screen material after it is thouroughly
mixed in the mortar and pestle. This catches any tiny chunks of pigment that
might end up causing spots on the prints. Remember, smooth is what we were
after. Ed described this process quite well in his earlier post. Glad
someone was taking notes! We also talked to one person at APIS who has been
using a foam roller to smooth the gum after applying it with a brush.
So, that's the jist of it. Nothing earth-shattering, but we ended up with
the results we were after, as those who saw the prints at APIS can
(hopefully) attest to. (BTW, the loose prints on the table and the 2 matted
prints on the far left were made by me, the rest of the matted prints and
framed prints were made by Stuart.)
We're not trying to convince anyone that this is the way you should print.
Do what pleases you. This is just information to use or ignore.
*And don't believe ANYTHING you read until you try it for yourself.
In Big, Creamy California
ps Yes, we're aware of the hazards of dichromate powder. Wear repiratory and
skin protection. I always measure out the amount of water I'm going to use
first into the bowl, then I add the powdered dichromate which lands in the
water and stays there in a slurry.
ps for Cactus Dave: I just read your next note about Stuart's talk. Again, I
don't understand the anger and resentment. Stuart has done almost NO
self-promotion, other than to show his prints to people who become excited
about them, then discuss them here and elsewhere. Maybe you should try it
some time. It takes a lot more time to make a fine print than to throw words
around on the internet. Also, you ask what's the difference between dry
dichromate or saturated solutions. The only way to find out is to try it.
But you said you've tried it all already 10 years ago. So I guess you have
also used roller brushes, too. Did they work well for you? If so, I wish
you'd told me sooner! I really like them for gum! There is danger in
becoming too set in one's approach. It's too bad your job doesn't allow you
to plan your vacation time two years ahead of time, because APIS is a real
hoot. And I'd love to see your prints.
> From: Dave Rose [mailto:email@example.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, July 22, 2003 8:51 PM
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Re: Dry Dichromate and Gum, was Re: News from APIS
> What exactly is the "dry dichromate technique"? Why would this be
> Is Stuart Melvin a member of this list? If so, please elaborate on your
> I find this "top secret, wait and see at APIS" hype really annoying. It's
> very frustrating to read second hand reports heaping praise upon
> this guy's (Melvin) work with no details, no published reports, etc....
> Does this guy really exist? Why the silence? If I, an overworked car
salesman in rural
> Wyoming with precious little spare time, can post countless
> contributions to the alt-photo list, why can't this so-called gum guru
write a single word?
> From what I've read of Stuart Melvin (View Camera magazine a few
> years ago) he hasn't done anything that hasn't been done a hundred years
> what's new? Let's hear it!
> I regret not attending APIS. I would have loved to have been there, but I
> had to work.
> Best regards,
> Dave in Big Wonderful Wyoming
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