Getting Fiber Based Paper Flat

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by nyoung, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. Welcome to APUG thanhpatin
     
  2. Rick Flag

    Rick Flag Member

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    My method is similar to that of doug_morse (scroll back to 6/29/14). I lay the wet print face up on a sheet of glass which is about 0.5 cm larger all around than the paper. To hold the print in place I use aluminum strips, which we can buy at the neighborhood hardware store here in the U.S. These come in 1/2 x 1/16 x 48 inch pieces and can easily be cut to whatever length you need. The strips are laid over the edge of the print on four sides, and clamped in place. Best are clamps from office supply places. The toothed clamps you can buy in grocery stores may slip onto the paper, leaving you with the imprint of the teeth. I use enough clamps that they can be lined up edge-to-edge all the way around the print. If I'm patient I'll just let it dry that way. If I'm impatient, the usual situation, I'll direct air from a small fan across the surface. When the surface is dry I'll place the print between two sheets of blotter paper, with weights, to allow the edges to dry. The process takes an hour or two, and the paper comes out with just a slight end-to-end curve, not enough to make matting and framing the least bit difficult.

    Now, some details. (1) I've used this method only on 8" x 10" or smaller prints, and only with Ilford MGIV-FB papers. I've yet to try the new Ilford Classic FB paper. (2) I live in the very dry American southwest. I don't think FB paper likes this climate. The paper from the box has such a strong side-to-side curve it's difficult to get it onto the easel properly, and the arms of the easel have to be weighted to get the paper to lie flat. The paper is much, much better behaved after printing and drying as described. (3) Others have mentioned the importance of slower drying and of maintaining a rather high level of humidity. My experience just doesn't support this view - the relative humidity here is generally below 20%, the lowest our gauge registers. Maybe smarter/more experienced folks than I can offer an explanation.
     
  3. doug_morse

    doug_morse Member

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    Sorry Pentaxuser I am not a regular user of the forum. So a very long time for a reply! I usually dry them on the floor when the underfloor heating is going. Then it is much less than an hour depending on how much water is left on the surface. I think propping them against a radiator would also work about as well. I have also dried them in the sun on the patio when available. That dries faster. I haven't however timed it as I usually have a enough of these (4x for 8x10) to handle my volume of work.

    BTW I have finally gotten around to getting the 12x16 version to work. I will have a blog post up soon to describe the trials and ultimate success. I will post the link here.

    Thanks for the interest.

    regards
    Doug
     
  4. doug_morse

    doug_morse Member

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  5. Joe VanCleave

    Joe VanCleave Member

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    Doug, I really like your drying method. I'll have to try it.

    I use a similar method for smaller FB prints, but use drafting tape along the edge of the print, overlapping the print about 3mm or so, taped down to a piece of window glass, then placed inside my drying cabinet under a 100w bulb. I'll check it after about an hour and press the tape down upon the glass, after it starts to lift from the paper shrinkage. Then it dries very flat. I remove the tape slowly, peeling each piece off in the direction toward the edge, and no tearing of the paper is seen, or adhesive residue.

    ~Joe
     
  6. trudee

    trudee Subscriber

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    Can you use plexi glass instead of regular glass for drying?
     
  7. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    Acrylic or polycarbonate sheet works fine so long as it is thick enough to stay fairly flat. The 2mm sheet might curve quite a bit so I use 4,5mm which is ok. Also possible (and cheap) are pieces of melamine covered chipboard, shelving or cupboard building material, unless someone appears with evidence that the plastic covering reacts with damp paper?!
     
  8. John Layton

    John Layton Member

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    I use two methods for "flattening" largish (16x20 and 20x30) prints, and each gives about equal results.

    The first involves simply clipping wet prints to a clothesline...then, just as the bottoms start to curl and when still a bit damp, I turn the prints over and re-hang them.

    Second method uses two clotheslines running parallel to each other, far enough apart so that the prints can be clipped in under tension from both edges. A bit more convenient as prints don't need to be turned over as in the first method.

    Results are similar for both of the above - with freshly dried prints still showing just a bit of curl. So...no matter which method I'd used, I finally place the now-dried, and "flattish" prints between two silicone-treated archival "release" boards (I also use these in dry mounting) - and place a small amount of weight on top - evenly distributed - then forget about the prints for a few days...after which they're plenty flat.

    I'd previously had some bad experiences (mechanical injury/chemical contamination) in bringing wet or even damp print surfaces into contact with anything (screens, blotters, etc.) at any point during drying, and therefore long ago decided to go with the air drying methods I've described above. The only exception I make in making contact with a wet print is that I always, and very carefully, squeegee the print surfaces prior to hanging them to dry.
     
  9. Welcome to APUG John
     
  10. momus

    momus Member

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    These techniques are almost exactly what is used when you soak a fine art paper (for watercolour, oil or acrylic painting) in water for a while to remove the sizing. Those are blotted first w/ a couple of towels (something best avoided w/ photo paper), then taped to a flat panel and allowed to dry. In the case of the fine art paper, they're then coated w/ acrylic gesso, and are ready to paint right on the panel. It sounds like in the case of the photo paper, once it dries you're ready to frame or mount.

    I'll have to try this. My usual method of simply laying the fiber photo paper on something like screens to dry results in considerable waviness that needs to be addressed by putting the paper under weight for a long time because the paper has stiffened into that shape after drying. The taping to glass/plexi while still wet sounds easier and faster.
     
  11. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Long ago and far away I dried fiber prints by putting them to bed and covering them with a clean sheet and a blanket to provide some weight. They didn't dry perfectly flat, but storing them alternately face up and face down in a tightly packed box eventually flattened them.
     
  12. studiocarter

    studiocarter Member

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    I made a video about how 16x20 FB glossy paper was blotter stacked without any marks. It is on my YouTube channel, studiocarter1, in the Hawkeyes series.
     
  13. M. Axel Wikstrom

    M. Axel Wikstrom Member

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    Anything I print on FB paper gets dry-mounted. For everyday stuff it's RC.

    To dry, I wipe the water off with a paper towel and put them face down on a drying screen overnight, which results in just the edges a bit curled, then they get dry-mounted.
     
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  15. RichardJack

    RichardJack Subscriber

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    Mount them. Either use a dry mounting press or 3M spray adhesive or double sided tape. Other wise follow the suggestions of covering them with a piece of glass and using lots of weight and time. I have a very old double sided flat electric dryer that hold the paper down with canvas, works very well. Experiment.
     
  16. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    Following tips elsewhere on the site, I replaced use of spray-mount on cardboard by self-adhesive foamboard. The results are smell/vapour free and much smoother, as the gradual removal of the release-paper when the print is mounted means that the surface is completely clean and flat - nothing sticking to the spray-mount before you get the print down firmly.

    Depending on your supplier, the self-adhesive foamboard is available (at least here, locally) in 3mm or 5mm, and also in double-sided which is surprisingly useful in maximising display space with free-hanging images (ie. not on a wall). Mounting anything is not a perfectly archival option, but I have seen no material or delamination problems during five years of use, even including a couple of weekend exhibitions in a damp marquee.
     
  17. studiocarter

    studiocarter Member

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  18. theyankeesnapper

    theyankeesnapper Subscriber

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    * After washing bathe the print in 1 part glycerin to 10 parts water for a minute or two

    *Pg 408 of the the amateur Photographers Handbook, by AAron Sussman.
     
  19. GRHazelton

    GRHazelton Subscriber

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    Back in the day my Father and I used a dilute solution of ethylene glycol as a final soak. IIRC there was a commercial preparation sold as a print flattener, but given my Father's PhD in Chemical Engineering we could well have rolled our own The ethylene glycol is hygroscopic and keeps the print slightly damp. Propylene glycol would be a safer choice.
     
  20. mshchem

    mshchem Member

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    The famous Pakosol soup is according to the MSDS is 95%"hexylene glycol" : dilute according to instructions. Same idea as glycerin or glycol.

    2-Methyl-2,4-pentanediol exhibits both surfactant and emulsion-stabilizing properties. Its relatively high viscosity and low volatility are advantageous in coatings, cleansers, cosmetics, solvents, and hydraulic fluids.[8] Although it is an irritant at higher concentrations, it is sometimes used in skin care, hair care, soap, and eye cosmetic products at concentrations ranging from 0.1% - 25%.[9][10]

    I dry my DW fiber prints on a nice Pako drum dryer. I don't use any chemicals. I dry all my prints with emulsion towards the canvas belt, this helps a lot to reverse the tendency to curl up towards the emulsion side. Still I always store prints in a stack, in a box or flat file. Left alone they will tend to curl a bit. Really important not to overheat and over dry. Getting them 90% dry on a dryer then putting in a nice clean blotter book works great too.
     
  21. If you can find it use Edwal Print Flat.
     
  22. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    Two or three ways that really work. Large circular drum dryer, 36", belt fed that I used in College 1960. Small drums do not work. Good luck finding one. Taping the edges to a glass plate or I used to use a basswood mechanical drawing board, emulsion out and squeeged. Takes 24 hours. Very flat 16x 20`s. Find a non residue tape or trim off edges

    Circular blotter roll probably impossible to find, Two kinds of blotter stack, blotters with corrugated cardboard on two sides. Last ones made were late 1960`s by a brand that made high end darkroom stuff. Mine is a Burke and James model from a garage sale, retiring pro photographer, The other ones are much more elegant, but work the same.

    Ferrotype for glossy.

    Blotter books, individual blotters changed 10 times during drying, screens, hang in pairs back to back, flat bed dryers, small drum dryers. None work worth beans. Post #25 maybe but I never tried it. Sounds like a ton of work.

    I have family pics from 1940 that are flat as a pancake. I think time and weight contribute. I hope to take my Burke & James to heaven with me.
     
  23. I use a 32" wide Arkay Drum Dryer.
     
  24. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Hey Folks,

    Quick opinion time.....

    In the past, to get prints perfectly flat, I have taped them to an old window pane. While this seems to ultimately work, its a PITA, so I am thinking of just flattening them between two sheets of matt board and some weights. Obviously, I want the prints as flat as possible before I begin.

    What produces a flatter print? Pegging prints back to back and hanging from a line or drying flat, face up on a drying screen?

    Cheers
     
  25. mshchem

    mshchem Member

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    Yes, drum dryers are great. I have a 20 inch wide Pako. Don't overdry and store prints flat in a stack in a museum box or flat file. I just got a new belt from Pakor for my 47 year old machine. Perfect
     
  26. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    Back to back hanging will produce flatter prints than drying on a screen. Flatter, but not flat. Pressing between matt board or whatever method you choose will still be needed.