Re: Rancid oil (Re: Ultrafine Clear Film and Epson 2200

From: Katharine Thayer ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 10/23/04-03:21:31 AM Z
Message-id: <>

The below certainly is consistent with my experience re paraffin, I've
never found it a satisfactory material for rendering paper negatives

But about the oiling, I'd have to say that good oiling technique is the
key to success. I learned how to oil paper negatives from a photography
book in my library that I can't find at the moment to give the reference
for, but at any rate that's where I learned to oil negatives, and I
still use the same general technique that I learned there, which
involves heat and re-oiling until the negative is completely oiled and
stable. Here's how I do it:

I spread a layer of oil on the glass surface of my coating table, put
the negative down into the oil face down, then pour more oil onto the
back of the negative and work it in from the back by rubbing with a
paper towel until the back has been permeated with oil and you can see
all the tones that you can see in the negative viewed from the front.
This takes only a couple minutes, but is essential, especially with a
thick oil like mineral oil. Then I remove the oily paper to the drying
table, where I set it on a blotter (I keep one blotter separate for
oiling negatives so I don't spoil the blotters I use for drying gum
prints) and train a hair dryer on the negative with one hand while I rub
the negative with a paper towel with the other hand. As the oil dries,
areas of unevenness are revealed, which I then re-oil on the spot with
the oily paper towel from step one, while continuing to heat with the
hair dryer. This is repeated until the negative retains its transparency
until completely dry. A final polish of the warm negative with a dry
cloth finishes the negative. At that point it is dry and stable. It
sounds like a lot of work, but it takes only a few minutes and when
you're done you have a negative that will last for a long time without
re-oiling and without changing over time. I have test negatives that I
have used for years that are still as transparent as the day they were
made, as I said the other day.

I tried beeswax once for negatives but didn't like it for the purpose,
for reasons that I can't now remember; at any rate I did not incorporate
it into my practice but stayed with oil after trying the beeswax. Off
the top of my head now, I'd say that I wouldn't want to use raw beeswax
because IME it colors paper tan/brown, and I would think that might
affect the tonal relationships within the print. And I've only seen
refined beeswax in crystalline form, not in a bar like raw beeswax or
paraffin which is a much easier form to use for waxing (BTW, I have
found that an electric griddle is perfect for warming paper for waxing;
I keep two of them in my workshop for when I want to treat prints with
beeswax). And working with crystalline beeswax requires a hotplate for
heating, a dedicated pan, brushes, and IME is more work than oiling,
even by my rather involved oiling method.
Each to his own, is what I always say,
Katharine Thayer

Judy Seigel wrote:
> On Fri, 22 Oct 2004, Christina Z. Anderson wrote:
> > I know in the printmaking lab they use baby oil (which I think is just
> > mineral oil with baby butt smell added) to oil paper negs. The exposure
> > times with these in relation to transparencies is 6 1/2 mn vs 4 mn 15 secs
> > approximately, on silkscreen (is this diazo?), so only a 50% increase in
> > time. After a while my prof said they lose their transparency, so one needs
> > to reoil. Apparently, from below, Katharine, you never reoil, so it is
> > another myth?
> As I described at some length in Post-Factory #8, "Paper Positive/Paper
> Negative: goodbye paraffin, hello beeswax -- and some second thoughts
> about oiling", a waxed and an oiled negative had exactly the same curve,
> but there were crucial differences.
> For instance, even the most even-fibered paper when paraffin waxed got
> blotches and mottles one place or another. No matter how carefully I wiped
> "I just managed to move them around." And all sorts of other troubles,
> although by that time I was very skilled at waxing. I decided to oil
> instead. Then,
> "We know that oiled paper, wiped and let dry for a few hours, reads a lot
> lighter on the densitometer than not-oiled. But when I happened to take a
> reading a day later, darned if it wasn't denser again... ..the next day --
> denser still.
> "Then I remembered reading (in Post-Factory) that beeswax floods less than
> paraffin. I tried it. It floods less. It looks good, even and smooth,
> promising to lie flat for contacting [which the paraffined paper never
> did] so paraffin is over. Get beeswax at craft stores & candle shops.
> "[As for the oiling] By 6 weeks, oiled paper has dried a *lot* and...not
> evenly. The darks increased opacity much more and the darkest darks the
> most, except in some strips the midtones changed most...."
> Then I went on to describe the various oils I'd tried, "I tested every oil
> in town. Singer Sewing machine oil should be non-drying but acts the
> same...castor oil is promising, very thick, takes 2 days to soak in, then
> starts back up; mineral oil; peanut oil, corn oil; lemon furniture oil;
> Vaseline takes a day to transparentize, then is the same, larch turpentine
> much diluted is still too shiny, and all, *all,* soon start to dry. After
> a week they seemed stabilized, but 6 weeks later showed drastic change.
> "So for a quick & easy negative, do Canola oil & use within a week or so,
> but don't count on next month. Of my samples, mineral oil was the worst,
> very spotty viewed from the back; castor oil probably changed the least."
> I note of course that those are generic terms.... just like pigment
> colors. One maker's "mineral oil" may be very different from the next. And
> I daresay those values will vary also according to the paper, I suspect
> also according to how heavily the oil is applied in the first place. I
> used a paper called Karma because, viewed on light table through a lupe,
> it had the least mottling.
> However I found that "Beeswaxed paper reads the same from day one, and so
> far remains the same -- smooth, clear and touchable. Speckling is minimal,
> in fact the wax seems to subdue texture....[However and meanwhile] Henk
> Thijs reports that he uses the paper plain, no oil or wax. Exposure is
> much longer, he says, but otherwise there's no difference."
> JS.
> > Paraffin and beeswax should not go rancid. I used to use those for bw print
> > paper negs. But this requires an iron.
> > Chris
> >
> >> My experience with rancidity is that it depends on the oil. The first
> >> oil I used, a generic vegetable oil from the grocery store, turned
> >> rancid, and no myth about it. I don't remember whether it was days or
> >> weeks, but within a short time the negatives developed a distinct
> >> rancid odor, which was pronounced enough to knock one backwards a bit
> >> when opening the file box containing these negatives. This odor lingered
> >> for a couple of years and then faded, but at the same time the odor
> >> faded, the paper turned brown rendering the negatives useless as
> >> negatives; a short time after beginning to turn brown they became
> >> brittle and would fall to bits at a touch.
> >>
> >> At the first hint of rancidity, I cast about for a better oil and
> >> settled on mineral oil; I have mineral-oiled negatives that are a
> >> decade or more old and as fresh today as when they were new.
> >>
> >>
> >> Katharine
> >>
> >
> >
Received on Sat Oct 23 10:17:12 2004

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