Sepia watertone papers, simple to work and cheap withal, are not a novelty, and to some it may seem su-perflous for me to instruct the amateur worker as to a manner in which he may prepare such a printing media for himself. The papers on the market are, it must be confessed, most convenient for the multitude, coming, as such do, all nicely coated and cut to convenient sizes.
Some individuals there be too indolent to do anything for themselves, and from such the dealer will always reap a harvest, high cost being no bar to the customer's purchasing. Some there are are, on the other hand, who buy the good thing only when it is cheap, and to such the sepia watertone paper wili appeal, for it is both good and reasonable in price; but in addition to the people enumerated there are many workers desirous of results removed from the common, and by sensitizing their own printing media, these individuals can be suited as regards quality and texture. Many are thus found printing pictures on specially selected papers, leaving around the image, printed space, a generous margin, which imparts to their work much of the charm pertaining to the etching or engraving. In Rome notable examples the result has much of the refinement and quiet elegance of the wash drawing, looking anything but photographic.
For those who sigh for such effects, and to meet the demands of those who aspire to print on note paper, postal cards, menu cards and textile fabrics, such as cotton, linen, silk and the like, as well as parchment and various suitable brands of leather, I submit a formula giving fine sepia tones and requiring nothing more than plain water for development and weak hypo as a fixative. In fact, the manipulation is precisely the same as that advised for the Eastman sepia paper, and barring the hypo, is the identical procedure essential in the production of the blue print.
A rather close grained paper is in order, for when porous the elimination of the unreduced salts is difficult, even with a prolonged washing. Where "velvety" effects are desired, a generous application of size is imperative, and where keeping qualities are in view, linen paper must be employed. With the cheaper wood pulp stock one must in time expect deterioration, and the development of that sickly yellowness so noticeable in the cheap book.
Do not begrudge the price. The best paper is essential; high class bond or ledger stock, for example, being admirable for the purpose, providing there is a generous application of size to give softness to the image. Arrowroot size is among the best and may be prepared in the proportion of two grains of the powder to the ounce of water. Beat up with a little cold water in a bowl, adding balance of water hot. Bring to aboil, when the cloudiness will disappear and the size be ready for use. During the past few years I have worked out more than a dozen sepia formulas. Some are slightly better than others, and among the best is the one I am about to submit.
Citrate of Iron and Ammonia 40 Grs.
Ferric Oxalate Merck's 15 "
Oxalic Acid 15 "
Oxalate of Potassium 30 "
Citric Acid 5 "
Gum Arabic 10 "
Distilled Water 1 1/4 Oz.
Mix in order given in a dark bottle, letting stand at least 12 hours before using. Apply with a flexible pad or wad of absorbent cotton, drying by the fire so as to keep the solution on the surface. When thoroughly dry coat with the silver solution, which should be prepared as follows:
Nitrate of Silver 55 Grs.
Citric Acid 25 "
Distilled Water 1 Oz.
When the chemicals are dissolved, this will be ready for use, and like the salting solution it should be protected from light by keeping in a cool, dark place.
Coat with the silver solution and immediately dry by artificial heat. The best and most vigorous prints result from a thin, even coating of the salting solution, for when the latter is in excess the image is apt to have a muddy, bronzed appearance. The best results I have had by using rather small sheets of paper and applying the solution quickly with a wad of absorbent cotton, drying immediately by the fire. This procedure is most essential when the rough surface or more porous papers are used. When the paper is hard and smooth one may get batter results by allowing the surface to become nearly dry before hastening with artificial heat.
Under print rather than over. Half tones should not be visible at all. Wash away the unaffected salts in clear water, from one to three minutes being sufficient. Then transfer to the cleaning bath, one and a half grains of common salt and hypo to each oz. of water used. In this the print will rapidly darken, and in from 1 to 3 minutes, or when at its best, remove and wash for 20 or 30 minutes.
When the printing has been deep, longer fixing can do no harm, provided there is no bleaching of the half tones. Long fixing alters the color, usually having a darkening effect, and my own preference is for the colors obtained by short fixing as being more satisfactory in tone.
The formula here submitted is about right for the average pictorial negative, one rather thin but full of detail and fine gradation. For dense negatives a dilution of solution containing the iron will be necessary, while on the other hand strong, vigorous prints may be obtained from these negatives by using but an ounce of water, instead of an ounce and a quarter, as per formula. If still more contrast is required, add from four to eight drops of a five per cent solution of bichromate of potassium.
I would remark that success of the process demands the keeping of solution on the surface of the paper, for when too much sunk into the meshes the results are apt to be poor. This is more than likely to be the case when soft papers are used, therefore the importance of rapid drying. Experience can alone determine best conditions and quality of paper to employ, but for the novice the ledger paper or bond stock may be with confidence recommended, where the surface is slightly spontaneously dried, and is then completed by artificial heat.
It is a most pleasing variation where the solutions are with a wad of cotton applied with studied carelessness to the spot where the image is to be. In such a procedure, when the sun has done its work we have a picture that has all the appearance of hand-brush work in sepia water color. This is more likely to be the case where the outlines are not too abrupt, and experience can alone determine how this can best be effected.
As before mentioned, printing of this character can be done on postal cards, note paper, envelopes, menu cards, etc., the results depending greatly on the quality of the paper used, as well as the sizing on same. Pure linen paper and arrowroot size will produce the most satisfactory results, but where pictures are for temporary purposes, or when simply experimenting, cheaper papers, such as may be obtained from the sta tioners all the way from 20 cents a pound will answer well enough.
Concerning postal cards, there is small use in attempting to print pictures on those issued by the government, the paper they are made from being so deplorably bad. Where postals made from good stock cannot be obtained at the stationers, pictures may be printed on good paper and the regular postal card employed on which to mount them, the entire writing surface of the card being covered. By passing a hot iron over the card perfect adhesion and flatness will be assured.
Where printing on cloth is attempted it will be best to wash out the stiffness, as the size that gives body to so many textile fabrics contains chemicals that will impair the photographic image. Size well with a good solution of arrowroot or in lieu of that, plain starch. Sensitize and paste on a stiff piece of paper cut to the dimensions of your printing frame. In this way there will be no difficulty in keeping in register when examining from time to time to note progress of printing.
With the formula here exploited a few minutes in the sun will be sufficient with ordinary negatives, the printing capacity of the process being quite rapid. On this account it will be well with more than usually thin negatives to print under one or more sheets of tissue. It is good a plan to follow at all times when printing in direct sunlight, the image thus being more likely to be permanent and always sharper and more decided regardless of other benefits.
Doubtless it may occur to some that if the two solutions were combined in one, the process would be ever so much simplified. Well, it is possible to combine the sensitizer with the salting solutisn, making good pictures thereby, but the results are not quite identical. Separate, the solutions keep better, and in my opinion the results are more uniform. Where the two are combined there is a heavy sediment so each time the coating is attempted the solution must be well shaken to thoroughly insure mixing of ingredients. However, for the benefit of labor savers, I submit a formula that will do the business in one application, and do it reasonably well.
Citrate of Iron and Ammonia
Oxalate of Potassium
Mix the silver and citric acid in half of the water and the balance of ingredients in the remainder, combining the two after dissolving and shaking thoroughly. If found to be too strong, giving excessive contrasts, dilute with water, and when mixing a new lot, reduce the quantity of citrate and oxalate of iron, say two grains of each. It should always be borne in mind that prints dry out much darker than appearances while in the wash water would indicate. The following is suggested for strong negatives:
Sensitizer For Strong Negatives.
Citrate of IronAmmonia
Oxalate of Potassium
The pictures from these formulas are of a warm sepia, without a trace of fog, and all detail in the negative should appear in the print even in the highest lights - "Western Camera Notes."