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10. KCl Gaslight Paper—Between Tutorials Addendum

January 30, 2013

Henk Mantel sent me an update on his work that had me grinning from ear to ear. He has approached emulsion making the same way I did. All in. No reservations.

Read about his adventures here.

Henk has made a lovely first emulsion. It has rich blacks, clean whites, and from what I can see, no black specks. Any problems are in the coating. Henk didn't wait for his Photoflo 200 to arrive. He used vodka rather than Everclear. The too-thin coating can be caused by two things—the emulsion temperature was too high at coating, and/or there was too much water in the recipe to support using vodka.

I would recommend that Henk start by adjusting coating temperature. If that doesn't do the trick, then he might add more gelatin, starting with 2–3 grams, adding more in similar increments until the right (for Henk) balance of temperature and total gelatin is achieved. Alternatively, or concurrently, he could reduce the amount of water. The wonderful thing at this stage of learning emulsion making is that practice is practice and practice is good. The learned manual skills to coat paper successfully grow hand in hand with recipe refinement.

Also, Henk reminded me of a paper issue. Which side is the right side? For emulsion making, grain matters, but not whether you coat on the front side or the back side. Both Arches and Fabriano papers are mouldmade papers. The machinery used closely simulates a handmade process. That means that you can see the faintest of outlines of a screen on the back side of the paper. The front has a smooth velum texture. Which side you like best is a matter of taste. Back in the day, paper came in a number of textures (along with colors and weights). The linen-like appearance of the screen side can be very appealing for some images.

I thoroughly enjoy my correspondence with Henk Mantel. He is creative and tenacious, with a great sense of fun. All those traits have served him well as he has worked at fitting his emulsion making into his situation — especially the tools and materials available to him in Germany.

Henk has written two new articles, Pushing the Puddle, and I Love It When It All Comes Together. I won't pull out his observations and advice here. Henk says it better than I could.

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