Re: Hazards of wet plate collodion ?

From: Kerik ^lt;>
Date: 08/08/05-10:47:17 AM Z
Message-id: <>


You can use plain hypo to fix collodion images. Although many of the
wet-platers I know prefer cyanide (as do I), it's not required for the
process. Cyanide works much faster (not a big deal) and it tends to give a
brighter image and a warmer coffee-and-cream tonality to the ambros and
tins. The bottom line for me is I prefer the look of cyanide-fixed ambros
and tins over plain hypo. Since you're teaching yourself the process, I'd
suggest starting out with plain hypo. You may get what you're after and
never have to deal with cyanide.

The ether will be mixed in with your salted collodion. Once you've mixed
them, you won't be handling raw ether. But, yes, handle the raw ether in a
well-ventilated area and don't smoke! :-) Once the ether and collodion
are mixed, you don't need to worry as much about ventilation and blowing
up. When I'm working in the field, I generally pour the collodion outside
(mostly because it's easier to see what I'm doing), then go into my
darkroom (cabover camper with red windows) for the rest of the process.

You might consider joining Quinn Jacobson's wet plate forum on his website Quinn does AMAZING wet plate work and is very willing
to share his knowledge. I recommend everyone take a look at Quinn's
images. I think he is on his way to becoming a successful fine art


> While I am waiting for my books from Coffer and the Ostermans and
> thinking about doing wet plate ferrotypes, two things make me nervous:
> #1 using potassium cyanide.
> a) I believe potassium cyanide is a restricted substance in Canada, yes?
> What is involved in buying and storing potassium cyanide?
> b) I have seen the damage done by cyanide in the gold mining country of
> northern Ontario and I know a little of its history as a medium of
> execution - the stuff makes me NERVOUS! It is, from what I understand
> very DEADLY. How does one render potassium cyanide solutions safe for
> disposal?
> c) What kind of handling precautions are required when working with
> cyanide solutions?
> d) Is there a safer way to fix collodion images?
> #2 ether
> I understand the wet plate method uses ether. I am a bit more familiar
> with ether than cyanide as I have used ether in industrial applications
> but ether has two un-nice characteristics - its flammability (explosive
> vapours) and its anesthetic nature.
> a) I Would presume that ether is used only out of doors in a well
> ventilated area and well removed from sources of ignition?
> I have a lot to learn but I also have an aversion to things that can
> KILL me!
> Dianne
Received on Mon Aug 8 10:46:36 2005

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