Silver Nitrate & Hake Brushes?

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MurrayMinchin

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Hi there,

I bought some Hake brushes to hand coat salt prints. In Ellie Young's book, The Salt Print Manual, she says brushes used for silver nitrate solutions should be discarded because they become contaminated.

If you always use one brush for salt solutions and another brush for silver solutions and never, ever, ever use one for the other, will that be okay...or...is there some sort of build up of residual compounds in the silver brush which will damage/alter future prints?

Thanks a bunch in advance.
 
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MurrayMinchin

MurrayMinchin

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Found this reference about using silver nitrate on a forensics website:

"...A regular paint brush (kept solely for this purpose and cleaned with distilled water after use) or cotton balls with forceps can be used for the brushing..."

https://www.bvda.com/en/silver-nitrate-solution

So, cleaning and then soaking in distilled water is the way to go if you want to reuse a Hake brush (which has no metal parts in it) for silver nitrate?
 
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MurrayMinchin

MurrayMinchin

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I've always used soft, high density foam brushes for large kallitype prints (otherwise it's a puddle pusher). I do use a hake brush for fun prints, though.

Thanks.

About to do my initial max black time tests and don't want to introduce variables which will have me blindly running down dead ends!
 
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Andrew O'Neill

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Thanks.

About to do my initial max black time tests and don't want to introduce variables which will have me blindly running down dead ends!

Sorry for the typo. Gum prints. Not fun prints. :laugh:
 

NedL

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I used the same hake brush for several years for salt prints, only for the silver nitrate solution. ( I usually coat the salt by floating, but sometimes applied it with a separate foam brush ). After each use, I rinsed it at least 4 times in clean RO water ( distilled would be fine ), by putting the water in a paper cup, swirling the brush in it, and gently squeezing all the water out, a couple times for each rinse. I came up with 4 times by brushing onto clean paper after each rinse and then putting the paper out in the sun, and was never able to see anything after 3 rinses. Although honestly I'm a bit fanatical about cleanliness with salt printing, and I usually rinsed it that way 5 or 6 times. The bristles will discolor and darken over time, but that was not a problem. It got better over time, partly because I got used to working with it and partly because it stopped shedding hairs after some weeks of use.

Even if you only use the brush for the silver nitrate solution, it will pick up some salt from the paper, along with anything else you put onto the paper before you sensitize it with silver nitrate. If you use gelatin or albumen before or in your salting solution, you will want to rinse the brush with warm water -- and that's fine. My hake brush stopped working for me after I started using starch sizing ( arrowroot and rice starch )... and it was a frustrating process to figure out that my brush was the source of some subtle fogging because I'd been using it without trouble for several years. I haven't spent time yet to try to figure out if there is a way to wash the starch out of the brush... since then I've just been using a new cheap foam brush each time. I'd like to use the Richeson brush mentioned above, but I'm not going to buy one unless I figure out the washing after starch sizing problem -- not planning to stop using starches, I like they way they look too much.

Have Fun!
 
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MurrayMinchin

MurrayMinchin

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I used the same hake brush for several years for salt prints, only for the silver nitrate solution. ( I usually coat the salt by floating, but sometimes applied it with a separate foam brush ). After each use, I rinsed it at least 4 times in clean RO water ( distilled would be fine ), by putting the water in a paper cup, swirling the brush in it, and gently squeezing all the water out, a couple times for each rinse. I came up with 4 times by brushing onto clean paper after each rinse and then putting the paper out in the sun, and was never able to see anything after 3 rinses. Although honestly I'm a bit fanatical about cleanliness with salt printing, and I usually rinsed it that way 5 or 6 times. The bristles will discolor and darken over time, but that was not a problem. It got better over time, partly because I got used to working with it and partly because it stopped shedding hairs after some weeks of use.

Even if you only use the brush for the silver nitrate solution, it will pick up some salt from the paper, along with anything else you put onto the paper before you sensitize it with silver nitrate. If you use gelatin or albumen before or in your salting solution, you will want to rinse the brush with warm water -- and that's fine. My hake brush stopped working for me after I started using starch sizing ( arrowroot and rice starch )... and it was a frustrating process to figure out that my brush was the source of some subtle fogging because I'd been using it without trouble for several years. I haven't spent time yet to try to figure out if there is a way to wash the starch out of the brush... since then I've just been using a new cheap foam brush each time. I'd like to use the Richeson brush mentioned above, but I'm not going to buy one unless I figure out the washing after starch sizing problem -- not planning to stop using starches, I like they way they look too much.

Have Fun!

Thanks for that hard won nugget of experience gained wisdom.

I'm starting simple with no gelatin, arrowroot, etc, so reusing the brush should be okay, although you've given me some reasons to consider single use foam brushes!
 

fgorga

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My thoughts...

Hake brushes have natural bristles that are very absorbent. This has two disadvantages... they use up a lot more solution than synthetic brushes and they are harder to clean. Also, the lack of metal in hakes brushes is not really important. If one is careful not to let the metal ferrule on a brush to corrode the metal is not an issue. This means drying your brush after a session and not letting it sit in water.

Richeson brushes are very nice (and expensive) brushes (I have three), but there are plenty of other synthetic brushes that will work just as well.

The material used to make synthetic brushes is often referred to as "Taklon" (I believe this is a brand name) which comes in three colors/stiffness grades. You want a brush made with the gold (brown) grade. This is the middle grade. The white/stiffest grade will damage some papers. I have not tried the black/softest grade.

As for a specific recommendation, I have been using these brushes (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J8HCPAY/) for applying silver nitrate to salted-paper for roughly a year. They work just fine.
 
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