DIY contact frame for odd-size dry plates

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mooseontheloose

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So I’ve ventured into the world of dry plates thanks to our own @Nodda Duma, and I’ve been thinking about the possibility of doing contact prints with them. But I’m shooting small, 6x6 Holga-sized images, and will possibly do to 6x12 once I get my converted back from Randy at Holgamods. Now, I have an 8x10 inch contact frame for regular film, and I know it’s possible to find or make contact frames for regular sizes, like 4x5 or 5x7, but what to do for a really small plate? I’d like to print them directly onto 5x7 (or smaller) paper, so ideally the plate would fit into a holder the size of the paper, not the plate. Is this possible? I haven’t found any information about doing something like this.

I don’t have the tools to be able to put something like this together, but my dad does (he’s worked in construction all his life), so I thought it might be something he could help me with when I go home this summer. But I’d like to know if it’s feasible and if anyone has some advice about building these types of contact frames for non-standard glass plates.
 

bdial

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I have a 4x5 contact frame, but for printing my 6x6 dry plates so far, I've just used my proof printer. I don't recall seeing any contact frames that were smaller than 4x5, though I expect they exist, especially in postcard sizing.

As for building a small contact frame, I'd probably start with a small picture frame
 
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mooseontheloose

mooseontheloose

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I guess what I'm thinking of is having a 5x7 frame, using a piece of thin wood or mat board in place of the glass, with a hole cut out to somehow keep the plate flush with the mat, but allow it to be used like a regular contact frame.

How are you using the proof printer? Isn't there a problem with glass on glass?
 

awty

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I guess what I'm thinking of is having a 5x7 frame, using a piece of thin wood or mat board in place of the glass, with a hole cut out to somehow keep the plate flush with the mat, but allow it to be used like a regular contact frame.
That would work, if the thin board is the same thickness as the plate. Does the plate need to compress against the photo paper or does it just sit on top? If you dont need to compress the two then what you described would work. If you need to compress then that may be a little trickier, but doable.
 

awty

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Or you maybe able to utilise a enlarger mask or have something made from aluminum and have 2x pins (small bolts) on each side to hold the plate and a frame to take the photopaper, pins could be just shorter than the plate thickness.....or thin strips of aluminum glued on...... So a 1mm thick piece of aluminum cut to 5x7 with a 6x12 window (slightly smaller)in the middle and 4x strips of aluminum thinner than the plate on all four sides glued around the window to hold plate and gaps to allow removal of plate.... or someone will have a better solution.
6x12 mask.jpg
 
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bdial

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...How are you using the proof printer? Isn't there a problem with glass on glass?
I think I had it in a Printfile sleeve. My goal was a proof print, and I hadn't actually considered the possibility of Newton's rings with glass on glass.
 
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mooseontheloose

mooseontheloose

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Or you maybe able to utilise a enlarger mask or have something made from aluminum and have 2x pins (small bolts) on each side to hold the plate and a frame to take the photopaper, pins could be just shorter than the plate thickness.....or thin strips of aluminum glued on...... So a 1mm thick piece of aluminum cut to 5x7 with a 6x12 window (slightly smaller)in the middle and 4x strips of aluminum thinner than the plate on all four sides glued around the window to hold plate and gaps to allow removal of plate.... or someone will have a better solution.
View attachment 202376

Thanks Paul - that’s given me some good ideas about how to do it. I might try to make a prototype with some cardboard to see how that goes. If it works, I could then move on to sturdier materials.
 

James Drukeli

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I put together a DIY contact from for under 10 dollars. What I did was buy one of those vacuum seal bags for storing clothes that you can suck the air out of with a vacuum for $5. Then I cut a small rectangle in one side of the bag and used clear packaging tape to secure a small pane of Polycarbonate to it (better UV transmission than acrylic). Put your negative and paper inside and suck the air out with the vacuum. Works like a charm.
 

DWThomas

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Tossing out an idea, in the middle row of this gallery you can see what I did to align an 8x10 negative (pinhole work on x-ray film) over a piece of 11x14 print paper. I wouldn't say it's foolproof (fools can be so durn clever ...) and it might lack for doing volume production, but it works reasonably well for my occasional use. I place that mask and holder on a thin sheet of foam on the enlarger baseboard, load the paper and negative. I then gently lay a sheet of window glass over it, placing a weight on each side of the glass to try to maintain good contact. The U-shaped paper guide is two-ply Bristol board to approximate the print paper thickness. The black mask was cut from a scrapbook page (seemingly a smooth, possibly synthetic, paper found in a craft store) that approximately matched the x-ray film thickness. For a glass plate, perhaps mat board would work. The parts are hinged at one edge.

If you want masking to crop off the edges, that would be another layer, an intermediate locating frame for the plate made of mat or other cardboard between the paper guide and the mask.

As I say, not volume production, but to the good, it can all be done with a bottle of glue, a straight edge and an Exacto knife -- no milling machine! :whistling:
 

esearing

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Buy an 8x10 proofing printer with hinged glass and cut your paper to size or use a masking layer to center small negative to larger paper.

I'm trying to work out a quick 7x14" printing frame for centered 5x12 prints . I'm considering making a 7x14 speed frame design using 1.5" aluminum with thin 1/2" strips or washers underneath making a 5x12 opening with 1" borders, tape negative to 5x12 glass and drop it onto the paper in the metal frame. The aluminum is about 1/8 thick but there may be some brass or other alternatives out there that I could just put glass on top of to hold the negative flat enough.
 

MattKing

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Instead of using cut out thin card stock as a mask, could you use a sheet of cut out exposed and processed film - perhaps X-ray film?
 

Nodda Duma

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Hey moose,

When I contact print dry plates onto regular photo paper (ie not printing out paper), I usually just lay the plate down onto the paper directly.. emulsion side down. This is done under the enlarger, just using the enlarger as a light source. Like doing a contact sheet for negatives. This works well for RC. For FB with a bit of curl it can be a bit trickier… but a regular size paper in an easel which I trim after developing as needed gives me good results.

Obvious, but sometimes people new to plates don’t think of this: Keep in mind that glass doesn’t bend like film, which helps to avoid the problems that require a contact printer for printing from sheet film. :smile:

Sometimes I add writing, in which case I write on the glass side so I can wipe the writing off after.

If you want to preserve a white border, careful cutting of black card stock is all you really need. You can cut right to the edge of the glass, just inside, or just outside to present the self-framing you’ll get with the glass edge itself.
 
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