> Have you tried not using a sizing? I've always had good results with
> BFK and brown prints (cyanotypes too) not using any sizing. In fact,
> I've only found a few papers that didn't work well without sizing so
> that it was easier to simply switch papers when I came across one that
> gave me problems using these processes.
As I understand it, most papers, including the sheet versions of BFK do
come with a sizing from the factory. This sizing may be fairly light, and
most people would probably ignore it and just apply another sizing right
over it. They have to have sizing because they don't have the "wet
strength" to withstand the prolonged soaking they certainly get in photo
processes, if not in other printmaking media.
I like to print with no sizing at all, and have found it rather difficult
to find suitable waterleaf papers in realistic quantities even in Seattle,
where Dan Smith sells (or sold - the business has changed hands) more
kinds of paper than probably anyone in the world. I use two types: BFK
(the roll version is a strong waterleaf) and Arches 88. I have to buy
these in large rolls. They don't come cheap, either. Unless I am
mistaken after having repeatedly pursued these papers, a real waterleaf
paper is a rare commodity indeed. They have to have long fibers and are
usually quite heavy.
It's hard to know whether a paper is truly a waterleaf without testing
it; the papers I use soak up water/solutions just like a blotter. I am
always amazed that they don't come apart in the long washes it takes to
get them clean, since they soak up so much (in my case, cyanotype). If
the surface doesn't soak right up, it's a dead giveway; there's a
sizing. A waterleaf paper will seem to extract the solution from the
brush, and the liquid will travel among the fiber. So where you apply
the solution will not have an edge which corresponds with the edge of the
brush. A spot of liquid will grow outward from where it is applied.
They also have a different feel to them; they are soft and maybe luscious
-- guess you can tell I'm a paper junkie.
If you know of true waterleaf papers which have the strength to withstand
several hours of washing and are available in sheet quantities, I'd sure
like to know about them.