Getting Fiber Based Paper Flat

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nyoung

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Ok,
I haven't done any printing on fiber based paper since high school but I want take it up again out of dissatisfaction with the tonal range of the RC papers.

So, two questions:

How do you get the darn things to dry flat? I have had, in the distant past, many bad experiences with dryers.

Does anyone still use ferrotype plates? If so, how does one use them? I long ago inherited 4 or 5 but I don't quite get how you use them.
 

trexx

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To use the ferrotype squeegee the print face down and leave until it pops off. The problem is getting the ferrotype surface clean and polished enough. Then also some papers work better then others ferrotyping.

For just drying I lay the prints face down on a beach towel after being well squeegeed.

TR
 

dpurdy

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It is very useful to have a small dry mount press. I dry fiber prints face up on screens and when they are dry I heat them in a dry mount press. Right when I take the print out of the press I work the curl out. It works perfectly. Even the new Lodima paper which has an extreme curl in the box lays very flat after washing and drying and heat pressing.
 
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nyoung

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So, how do you "work" the curl out? Pressing onto a flat surface? Curling the print backward?
 

dpurdy

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Just curl the print backwards a little. Unless the humidity is very low and the paper is very very dry, flattening the print is easy to do. My fiber prints lay flatter than my RC prints.
 

Reinhold

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It's been a long time since I used ferrotype plates, but here are some hints:
The paper should be the "F" surface (Ferrotyping), for glossy surfaces.
They've got to be sooper clean... try a no-scratch kitchen cleanser (Bon-Ami works very well)
Waxing the surface helps... try a floor or car wax, well polished.
The print should be given a final rinse in a rich, sudsy Foto-flo bath...
Don't drain the print before laying it on the plate... no "dry" areas on the print... "slop" it onto the plate.
Squeegee the print only after it's in full contact with the plate.
Let the print "pop" off, don't try to coax it off too soon.
If you like mirror smooth prints, it's hard to beat ferrotyping, even tho it's a hassle

If you prefer the air dried surface, most folks dry their prints on screens & flatten 'em later (as Dennis says).
I even have an old mangle (rotary clothes dryer) I got at a garage sale the works pretty good.
A few years ago Salthill (remember them?) sold a good print dryer that I cloned.
It works better than anyting else that I have tried in the last 60 years of makin' fotos...

Take a look...
http://www.classicbwphoto.com/Blog/A40AA6E8-A280-11DB-9B69-000A95E8D0C0.html

Have fun.

Reinhold
 

diamondcreek

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Thanks for the tips...

I just got my first pack of FB paper. Thanks for the good tips in this thread. I have also had someone suggest putting the print between layers of good quality paper towels and then using a large book or weighted plywood sheets (finished type).
 

dpurdy

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Since my drymount press is only 11x14 I have flattened 16x20 prints but laying them face down on a clean sheet of glass and then putting another piece of plate glass on top and weighting that down with books. It will eventually make the prints flat as a pancake but it might take a couple of days.
 

JBrunner

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Since this comes up more often than I change my underwear, I have made it sticky. Please post all your questions and remedies for potato chip prints here.
 

Domin

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Just curl the print backwards a little. Unless the humidity is very low and the paper is very very dry, flattening the print is easy to do. My fiber prints lay flatter than my RC prints.

You must live in very different climate or use very different paper.

My first fb print curled so much it looked like a flower. I find it a bit hard to believe that any fb lays flatter than rc and curling it manually has any effect. I tried flattening foma with glass and stacking books; I left it for over a week didn't have but a slight effect. Ilford mg is much better in that respect but far from what you describe.
 

dpurdy

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You must live in very different climate or use very different paper.

My first fb print curled so much it looked like a flower. I find it a bit hard to believe that any fb lays flatter than rc and curling it manually has any effect. I tried flattening foma with glass and stacking books; I left it for over a week didn't have but a slight effect. Ilford mg is much better in that respect but far from what you describe.

I meant after I press the fiber prints in a dry mount press. However I have a real problem with RC prints. If they are left wet any bit too long they pick up a curl or sometimes a warp that is just not fixable in any way. And I have tried sometimes to mix one brand of RC paper in a job with another brand of RC paper and found the curl to go the opposite way. Making it impossible to deliver them like that.
 

rwyoung

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I use a sheet of glass at an angle over an extra photo tray to help me squeegie off the water as prints come out of the rinse. First I do the back, then lift the print and while holding it up, run the squeegie down the empty glass to clean it. Then the print goes down on the glass face up and I squeegie (lightly) again. Don't worry about getting it bone dry here. A few drops make no difference.

Next I have a set of drying screens (keep them clean). I put the prints down FACE UP for a while. I know the recommendation is FB face down and RC face up but I've had some problems with soft emulsion taking on the screen patter. If I leave them FACE UP for an hour or so then turn them over it seems much better.

After a day on the rack (no forced air drying in my case) they will have curled up a bit. In the winter less so but the summer can be quite humid even with my air conditioner running. At this point I use a dry mount press to flatten them. I use sheets of 2-ply matte board above and below the print. The press is on its lowest setting. Each print gets about 20 seconds in the press then out. I repeat this a few times. If the matte board seems damp I switch it for a fresh set. Always seem to have some extra pieces lying about.

So far this has worked fine. Haven't trashed a print yet (knock on wood) and I try to be very careful about washing the prints and cleaning the drying screens so I'm not worried about contaminating the matte board. Also check the matte board once in a while to make sure something hasn't gotten stuck to it. If you press it with some filth in there, it will make dent in the print.
 

JBrunner

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Here is my procedure. My climate is very dry so left to their own many prints will curl until their corners touch.

1. I dry them between two clean screens. This has never left a mark. They come out flat with a bit of wave. This part is important as trying to press a seriously curly print often damages some emulsions by cracking it, especially the corners.

2. After they are dry I put them in a hot press and then pull it from the the press and let it cool under some books. The cooling part is important, because if the print is allowed to cool without being held flat, it will have a tendency to get back a little of its curl. By doing this they come out as flat as can be. On occasion if I don't mount them, they will curl back up very slightly. Mounting, or another session in the press cures that.
 
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Ric Johnson

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I use my wife's clothes iron to flatten my fiber paper. I place the print face down between 2 pieces of 3 ply matt paper. The iron is set as high as it can, without steam, and then just move it up & down, left & right again, again and again until it's flat. Maybe 5 - 10 minutes. I then lay a large heavy book over the matt paper and let it cool down. I only use the matt paper for drying... nothing else. On the back sides of the matt paper I wrote down "backside only" so I don't have dirt or dust on the side that touches the fiber paper, I also store the matt paper in a bag so I don't try to use it except for flatting my print.
 

dpurdy

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I use a sheet of glass at an angle over an extra photo tray to help me squeegie off the water as prints come out of the rinse. First I do the back, then lift the print and while holding it up, run the squeegie down the empty glass to clean it. Then the print goes down on the glass face up and I squeegie (lightly) again. Don't worry about getting it bone dry here. A few drops make no difference.

Next I have a set of drying screens (keep them clean). I put the prints down FACE UP for a while. I know the recommendation is FB face down and RC face up but I've had some problems with soft emulsion taking on the screen patter. If I leave them FACE UP for an hour or so then turn them over it seems much better.

After a day on the rack (no forced air drying in my case) they will have curled up a bit. In the winter less so but the summer can be quite humid even with my air conditioner running. At this point I use a dry mount press to flatten them. I use sheets of 2-ply matte board above and below the print. The press is on its lowest setting. Each print gets about 20 seconds in the press then out. I repeat this a few times. If the matte board seems damp I switch it for a fresh set. Always seem to have some extra pieces lying about.

So far this has worked fine. Haven't trashed a print yet (knock on wood) and I try to be very careful about washing the prints and cleaning the drying screens so I'm not worried about contaminating the matte board. Also check the matte board once in a while to make sure something hasn't gotten stuck to it. If you press it with some filth in there, it will make dent in the print.

That could have been me talking exactly.
Dennis
 

Michel Hardy-Vallée

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I always start the same way: let the FB print air dry, but not bone-dry.

First method I tried was to use a clothes iron. By sandwiching the print between two sheets of watercolor paper, I could "iron" the print to dryness and reasonable flatness. On the plus side, it's manual labour, which can help to free your mind from worries. On the minus side, you'll spend forever drying your prints if you have a stack of them.

Now what I do is simply put the prints between sheets of acid-free blotting paper, and put a few books on top of them. Every once in a while, I let the prints air a little bit, then it's back to the blotters. Eventually the prints are pleasantly dry and flat, after a day or two. But they will always curl a little bit no matter what, unless you mount them.

The paper brand makes a huge difference. Anything remotely Eastern European will curl a lot, whereas Ilford and Kentmere stay flat even without any pressure.
 

papo

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Maybe I missed something, but I'm surprised that I haven't found any mention of the method we use quite often here in this part of the world. After washing, put the print face up on a plate of glass (with appropriate thickness) and fix the border with an adhesive tape, the whole perimeter, about 5mm on the print should be sufficient. It must be the old fashioned brown paper tape which is usually licked to get wet (or passed over a wet sponge, but do not wet it too much). Let the whole thing dry until the next day (don't hurry too much) and then cut the print with the stuck tape from the glass and then cut off the border strip with the tape (or hide it under a passe-partout). Especially with "F" papers the surface will get a very nice smooth look and will be perfectly flat.
The forces which try to contract the print when drying may be quite big with large prints, that's why the glass should be thick enough (5mm for 30 x40 cm will do).
 

Domin

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Here, in my strange country, where I don't know if we even have name for a dry mount press, we dry our fb prints using sheets of glass and paper tape with water glue.

In short: put a wet print on glass sheet, squeegee it, and stick to the glass with the tape along all borders. Leave overnight, cut the print with a knife.

I've actually never seen that described in english. Is it something local?
 
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Also agree with rwyoung.

I also have only 11x14 heat press. For 16x20 prints I sandwich one at a time between 2 sheets of 4-ply acid free board and set the dial to about 175 degrees and press sometimes for up to a full minute. I first heat press the middle area and then go around and press each 1/4 section which will overlap each other.

With these, as with smaller sizes, I place the sandwich right out of the press under a 21 x 18 x 1/2 inch sheet of glass. This is quite heavy enough for a single print sandwich. While this is cooling under the weight, I continue to heat press the next print. Then take the previous one from under the glass and place the next one from the press under the glass. This sets up a sort of assembly line - while one is cooling, one is heating and so on and so on.
If I end up with several prints, I'll stack then together under the glass with books on top for hours or overnight.


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aparat

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Here, in my strange country, where I don't know if we even have name for a dry mount press, we dry our fb prints using sheets of glass and paper tape with water glue.

In short: put a wet print on glass sheet, squeegee it, and stick to the glass with the tape along all borders. Leave overnight, cut the print with a knife.

I've actually never seen that described in english. Is it something local?

Dry-mount presses have been used in Poland for as long as they have elsewhere. I remember a little copy shop in my neighborhood had one back in the early 1990s. They are a staple in the framing (oprawa) i laminating (laminowanie) of artwork. The term for dry-mount press is "ciśnieniowa prasa termiczna."
 

jmxphoto

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So far I've had moderate succees with hanging the print to dry, then using my "poor man's press." Essentially it's an old FB print dryer but I sandwich the dried print between two ferrotype plates (to avoid contamination) and stretch the canvas over the whole shebang. 15min at 200degF gets it mostly flat, a slight curl but that's about it. It'll work until I can get a real dry mount press someday.
 

johnnywalker

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Here, in my strange country, where I don't know if we even have name for a dry mount press, we dry our fb prints using sheets of glass and paper tape with water glue.

In short: put a wet print on glass sheet, squeegee it, and stick to the glass with the tape along all borders. Leave overnight, cut the print with a knife.

I've actually never seen that described in english. Is it something local?

No, I've seen the method described on other threads on the same subject. I use it and it works very well.
 

ooze

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I use ferrotype plates, but probably not the way they are intended to be used because I don't want the ferrotype gloss on my FB prints. What I do is, after letting drip off most of the water I place the prints on towels face up and let them air dry overnight. Next morning they go within the pages of a big and heavy book and I put more books on top for more pressure. This removes most of the curl within a day or so. Then, I place the *dry* print on the ferrotype plate, face down, and sandwich it with the cloth that you stretch over the whole thing. After heating the device up for around 7-10 minutes I remove the hot print -which will have a pronounced inward curl at this stage due to the heat- and quickly place it within the pages of the big book and I again put more books on top for further pressure. After a day or so, the prints come out perfectly, beautifully flat and they stay flat. I was very happy when I found that this method works because I hate curly prints.

If I had a dry mount press I would use that, but they are almost impossible to find in our neck of the woods. The ferrotyping heater was the only thing I could find and I experimented with it. "Not macht erfinderisch" :smile:

My only problem now is that I can only flatten prints up to 24x30cm size. Never mind...larger prints tend to stay flatter anyway.

Good luck!
 
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