A lot of good work was done last week and this week promises to hold new photo prints from new glass slides. Last week was used to first review how to wash plates. A wooden drying rack was almost filled with 4x5 plates left over from previous work. They were clean but had some water spots and dust on them. Some were cleaned again. A new method of cleaning was used. It proved to work just fine. Water drained off the plates in a sheet; that is proof that the plate is clean. Calcium Carbonate was used with a little EverClear to scrub with, followed by tap water rinse in hot water, followed by distilled water rinse, it might be that a paper towel wipe is needed because it got rid of some grit, followed by a final PhotoFlow rinse.
How to coat plates was reviewed next. I chose to hand pour plates; this size is so small that it seems the thing to do. Liquid Light Emulsion had been put into 35mm film canisters made of plastic. One was put into a container of 120 F degree water for a while to melt; water had to be made hot again after a while; it took about 20 min. and one reheating to do the job.
One plate was poured in the light; emulsion was sacrificed to do this important learning step; it was well worth it. Half of a container was used; emulsion spread rapidly because one spray of EverClear had been applied to the plate first; very little tipping was needed; after each corner had been filled a little more mounded up the emulsion and it was carefully transferred to a cold slab of marble to harden.
Drying was done in a old shoe box. I love this work. Using hand techniques and things like shoe boxes is what I like to do. Plates were allowed to dry for days; boxes were changed for dry ones. The first day will deform the box because it absorbs moisture. A dark cloth is used to cover boxes when in the light.
The plate that was hand poured in the light is thick. Thick plates are recommended by Winkler on The Light Farm web site in his article. The thickest one I ever did gave me the best photo prints.
Drying a lot of plates made me do the third thing last week; I made a drying cabinet. We had a chest of drawers made of cardboard for Christmas ornaments; it had gotten water logged and sagged a bit. My wife bought new containers and I was free to use the old one. After straightening it out with water and a heavy pack of ceramic tiles as a weight I altered it. A door was made out of the drawers; the shelves were cut to allow air flow inside the box; seams were taped over. The box is now light tight and can hold a dozen or more small plates. The cardboard will absorb moisture and dispel it through the walls. Both sides are dry and not painted so moisture can pass through.
I like this kind of photography because I get to make things.