Re: report on glyoxal yellowing

From: Christina Z. Anderson ^lt;>
Date: 11/15/04-09:48:07 PM Z
Message-id: <002901c4cb8f$17e93da0$6101a8c0@your6bvpxyztoq>

How fascinating!!--so when you reported it, and the list used it, then the
chem supply houses started carrying it (like B and S, Artcraft, Ph. Form)?
What a bit of history. I wish I had been on the list back then....

Now, back to glyoxal yellowing:
1. I only used Rives BFK with glyoxal or formaldehyde while in MT (besides,
Fabriano has just changed formulation this year, so it is a moot point).
2. I have used all different papers in SC.
3. I have had different papers yellow in SC with glyoxal--not just Fabriano.
4. I soaked my yellow paper for a day and no budge of the yellow. Once it
is there, it is there.
5. I did use distilled water with this test, both in the gelatin and in the
glyoxal bath, to eliminate the possibility of my water supply down here
producing the effect.
6. I did not rinse after the glyoxal bath, wanting, instead, to see if it
was a fluke of yellowing I got or if, in fact, I could **recreate** it in my
usual practice. This I did, both with paper that had the glyoxal mixed in
with the gelatin, and paper soaked in a separate glyoxal bath, with the
lower dilution (15 ml) glyoxal.
7. Left to test would be for me to do the glyoxal separate bath and rinse,
as you do, Judy, down here. And to go to MT and do the rinse and no rinse
after hardening with Fabriano Artistico there, and Rives BFK. Next year.

     In all this discussion, we need to think of Don Bryant's test, too. My
hypothesis *might be* the paper determines the yellowing (or Karma, as Clay
says. Don is Mr. Perfect Technical Guy). This seems reasonable given my
test pieces were consistently yellower with cold and hot press and not with
soft press Fabriano, whether inside, outside, dark, light, air, no air. And
an addendum to that might possibly be that with an afterrinse, this tendency
for some papers to yellow is taken care of. There was an interesting post
by Ryuji, about excess glyoxal ("free" glyoxal) as a possible
     As far as the cyanotype, in side by side tests of paper sized with
glyoxal gelatin and paper sized with glut gelatin, the paper sized with glut
was beautiful, and the glyoxal one was dull. This can have alllll kinds of
reasons (that's for cyanotype king Sam Wang to decide), I am not setting out
here to prove anything about cyanotype--just that it is one more plus in my
book for glut. And I get less pigment stain in gum printing with glut.
      As far as why I give a hoot about all this--I don't care to prove
anything, or be the first to do anything. That's not my bag. I'll leave
that up to you and Katharine. I **do** care that my paper stays predictably
white. It does carry weight for me that Kerik, Clay, Sandy, and Kees all
experienced yellowing with glyoxal, too, and that Kerik and Sandy have
abandoned it as hardener of choice--Kerik moving to formaldehyde, Sandy to
alum. Or at least that is what I have gleaned from the archives.
     My dilemma then is--in teaching gum printing, what would be the
choice of hardener to have a class use?

----- Original Message -----
From: "Judy Seigel" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, November 15, 2004 2:23 PM
Subject: Re: report on glyoxal yellowing

> On Mon, 15 Nov 2004, Christina Z. Anderson wrote:
>> There is disagreement whether, once the yellowing occurs, it is removable
>> with a soak. Judy says yes. Kerik says no. I think my answer is no, but
>> I'll soak my measely little strips and tell you.
> It was a long soak.
>> For those of you long term listies (I've only been on since 99), who
>> instituted the use of glyoxal for hardening in alt process? Luis Nadeau
>> says this below. Dick Sullivan, do you know? I've cut and pasted this.
> For better or worse, I believe I was the agent of glyoxal on the list --
> but by way of Mike Ware. I don't remember the year, but possibly about
> 1996, Mike Ware was still on the list and interested in various issues of
> gum bichromate -- although at the time he hadn't done it himself. But it
> seems he had supervised a graduate student (whose name I may even have
> somewhere) on the use of glyoxal instead of formaldehyde in hardening
> gelatin... Then the graduate student went off, as Mike put it "to the
> Antipodes" (I had to look that up to confirm that it meant somewhere
> around Australia), without publishing his findings. (Also, as I recall,
> this discussion was offlist.)
> It was about then that formaldehyde was being kept off the general market
> (ostensibly because of toxicity, but by informed unofficial consensus
> because of its use in making crack or similar -- I'd been hearing from
> hospital personnel how it disappeared from locked cabinets). Facing
> problems of using formaldehyde in class (I could get it through the
> school, but its use with undergraduates was always problematic), I decided
> to test glyoxal -- obtaining some at that time through the chemistry dept.
> My tests showed that it hardened *better* than formaldehyde, in that day-
> old strips showed *less* staining and steps were equal if not better.
> Equally important, although the test papers had been TOTALLY dried
> outdoors, when I took them indoors, the formaldehyde papers still
> outgassed with fumes strong enough to burn my eyes and throat until I
> removed them from the room. (I know enough now to wonder if a week later
> the strips would have worked equally well, or.... not. But that was then.)
> I hadn't yet seen the problems of storing the working solution (which I
> consider minor -- don't bother using it past the 2nd day) or yellowing,
> which may be minor or major according to ones own variables ... now under
> discussion.
> In any event, I reported the initial findings to the list, and probably
> set off the practice... various other considerations arrived later, from
> various sources, and are still in consideration.
> Judy
Received on Mon Nov 15 21:48:32 2004

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