Good grief Re: Autoclaving gum and gelatin

From: Judy Seigel ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 02/09/05-04:07:28 PM Z
Message-id: <>

Good grief, I play hooky for one day and it takes another day to correct
the ... um, failed reading comprehension. But Christina's is easy --

Chris, I in NO WAY accused you of, or even entertained the suspicion that
you would DELIBERATELY falsify. What I noted was that IN THE OLD DAYS
(tho it's true MY "old days" go back beyond the mists of recorded history)
the instructions for Jello were to dissolve in hot not boiling water. I
wondered if,

(a) they had changed the instructions (which it seems they have-- I
haven't bought it since 1957-ish), or,

(b) you had misunderstood or misremembered my point, reversing it. Now it
does seem as if,

(c) they did change it but ALSO you misconstrued my response to your

It's possible I could have been clearer (tho on this list it seems I can
NEVER be clear enough!), but, you did fail to mention that you had read
this off a current jello box. And though I tend to read labels, I don't
read minds.

What does come to mind in the context is the joke I kept on my
refrigerator til I had to throw out the refrigerator: An elegant couple
in box seats is watching the grand finale of an opera, where hysterics,
daggers, bodies, tears, and other theatrics litter the stage. The wife is
saying to the husband, "Just think, with some good therapeutic
intervention all this could have been avoided."

Equally, I dare say, with some foresightful editing (some of) this could
have been avoided. However,

On Tue, 8 Feb 2005, Christina Z. Anderson wrote:

> The question at hand is, does a gelatin sizing **not** work for gum if the
> gelatin has been heated over 140 degrees? Pure and simple.

Oh, sigh, here we go again -- Asolutely not "pure and simple." We are a
game of Telephone -- I said originally ... whatever you like! (Did you
ever play that game straight? Didn't you hype it up? Confess !) I said
140 degrees at the outset because, as I explained and explained (for all
the good it did -- some folks have serious reading comprehension problems,
others are playing Gotcha! -- or both), that was,

a. The figure I'd always used, the figure in "the literature," and, now
in fact we see, safe in both directions -- a round figure with a margin of
error on both sides

b. the only size failure I'd seen in (what was the figure -- thousands? of
gum prints) was in maybe a dozen, ALL of which had a scalding of some sort
in their history.

While it's true that the examples I saw most certainly did go over
140 degrees -- so what? Couldn't someone just politely suggest that 140
degrees was overly conservative? No -- not with the Gotcha bell ringing.

Now they don't even want to believe those cases could even be due to
scalding. (If I'd begun by asking, can you scald gelatin safely?, would
they have said "yes"? I doubt it.) Certainly there was no reason to
scour the history for some other effect -- student wearing baseball cap,
smoked extra cigarette, facial zits, whatever -- to show that the causes
of the dirty dozen were NOT all the same. No reason then, and today the
Gotcha Gang wouldn't accept them anyway.

Now, it's I should have found some OTHER cause ! Right. I want to hear
that after they've spent a semester (often with no assistant) taking 30
undergraduates through 4 processes plus enlarged negatives. (Very few
"non-silver" courses include gum printing, even today, some 20 years after
I began. It's mostly given solo, as I taught it at ICP.)

> Judy says yes,
> and now it seems Katharine agrees with Judy. Judy and Katharine say
> speckling in a gum print is directly related to overheated gelatin. Ryuji
> and Sandy say no--overheating gelatin does not destroy its properties--but
> the argument is that Sandy and Ryuji are not gum printers and therefore what
> they say does not apply.

*No!* That is NOT the argument. The "argument" if you call it that, is
whatever it is they have found in a book of theory does not apply to these
particulars which they never saw but still deny -- on principle ! Or even
get straight. I don't know if their "theory" is true, or if true, if it
applies. Surely I don't have to list AGAIN the theories, just in this
field, that are wrong or irrelevant? In any event, the only theory that
could possibly apply here would be one to explain their little game. I
know the circumstances (and also that the bumblebee can fly).

> I do not **believe** (theory, not fact) speckling is from the overheated
> gelatin but from other causes--specifically glyoxal sized Rives, the only

Christina, that sentence could use some editing. At best, however, I
advise against saying you don't believe the speckling at issue was from
overheated gelatin -- again out of the kindness of my heart -- which is
what you SEEM to be saying. Perhaps you failed to notice that I never
said there could be no other cause of speckling. I said there was no
other cause discernible (or needed) in the cases I observed. Not to
mention that at the time we were still using formaldehyde.

I'll add that one of the prints that speckled from being hosed with
scalding water was on paper we had sized together as a class. None of the
others speckled, which made it especially puzzling. So I did what was my
custom when (usually in gum) something inexplicable occurred -- walked the
student back over the process from the start, and, as usually (mercifully)
did happen (I really am trying to teach them about cause and effect),
something occurred to him that hadn't at first: "Gee, I noticed that the
water from the hose was.... "

(I'll add here FWIW, that the two other most common "discoveries" about
failed prints during such deposition were that the wet emulsion had been
dried with a hairdryer on "hot," and an offbrand of paint in a boxed set.
And yes, they had been warned, even in the worksheet, about both.)

> Yesterday I boiled the hell out of my gelatin size. Today I will put it to
> the test on Fabriano Artistico EW, 20 sheets of paper, sized with glut added
> to the gelatin, and see if, in fact, it doesn't work. If glut-hardened
> boiled-the-heck gelatin works fine or doesn't, I will find out.

Sorry, Chris, that is NOT an adequate test -- you're changing too many
variables. That's not to say your test will tell nothing, but,

1. I never used glut. If you discover that it's therapeutic to boiled size
of course that could be useful.

2. I don't think we ever used that paper -- perhaps it needs no size at

3. AFAIK, none of these cases was sized with hardener in the gelatin.
Which may or may not matter with glut, or may or may not matter with
glyoxal, may or may not matter with formaldehyde -- but are possibly
controlling variables, and, if not apples and oranges, at least oranges
and grapefruit.

At the very least, you should size a few papers "normally" (even though
both your method of printing and of "normal" sizing are NOT the same as
mine) and test them, too. I'll also add that I believe you develop by
spraying, which in my experience is a VERY different phenomenon. Among
other points, the abrasion (spraying) in YOUR developing can remove a
multitude of sins. My tests are always with a 21-step STILL-DEVELOPED, or
what some call "auto-developed" in room-temperature water. Even if I
don't always print that way, it's the most revealing.

But, if you send me a few strips of paper, I'll test it against my usual
paper in the usual manner, and send it back to you. (That would be
interesting anyway -- I have it on my list of things for NEXT year to try
the glut.)

> Am I the only one willing to put my money where my mouth is instead of
> arguing about this? With TWENTY sheets of 16x20 paper and not just "one
> little test"?

As noted above, one little or 20 big tests, the test you propose doesn't
suffice. There must always be a control. And not a control against the
procedure you use, but against the procedure in which the glitches

> Do you think I will post the results to the list? NO WAY. If you want to
> know the results, email me offlist in a month, when I've used up all the
> papers. I am sick of getting hammered about every frikkin' gum statement I
> make. And Gordon, I held myself back best as I could from swearing.

On the bright side, even if they fail, another coat of regular gelatin
should make the paper printable.

And don't worry about frikkin' -- the word itself appears all over The New
Yorker, Artforum, and so forth, now even Art in America. Not to mention
all over the streets -- even though you can't see it on TV. I have about
100 photographs of people wearing it -- in GREAT BIG LETTERS, applied to
you, to Bush, to high school, to several celebrities, and to half a dozen
other things, as well as itself.

> Judy said:
>> Christina: (a) You say "if Jello starts with boiling water," etc. How did
>> you come up with that? Is that on the package now? What I wrote was that
>> Jello packages used to say "dissolve in hot, NOT boiling water." If you
>> changed that to "starts with boiling water," how can I believe another
>> thing you say?
> CHANGED THAT?? Questioning my credibility??? Even if this was said in jest
> or wit, it is hurtful, Judy. Read the back of a Jello box and maybe you'll
> see I am, in fact, believable.

Christina, if you'd said that right off, at least that part could have
been avoided...

love & kisses,


  Don't you think I would have checked the back
> of the box 5 times before I posted to the list, for fear of some correction
> to my statements such as this???? And have I ever accused you of belonging to
> some Gotcha Gang because you don't agree with me? Attack the information if
> you have to, but not the person.
> Chris
Received on Wed Feb 9 16:07:53 2005

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