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  • Dalice Trost

Slow printing

Last week I took some more steps on my journey towards slow printing, attending a workshop to learn the slowest printing process I have yet used. Carbon transfer printing is a wonderful technique that involves over 40 steps. The workshop was held by Ellie Young at Gold Street Studios in Trentham East, Victoria. The other workshop participant, Paul, and I learnt how to prepare the gelatin/pigment mixture, lay it onto Yupo (a synthetic paper) to create the 'tissue', sensitize the tissue, expose it to UV light, and then wash away the excess gelatin/pigment to leave a beautiful print.

Before attending the workshop I had read a few descriptions of the process and found myself baffled. I realise now that much of my bafflement was due to the jargon. The carbon is not carbon, the tissue is not tissue, the gelatin/pigment mix is referred to by many as 'glop', and the descriptions of the actual transfer process were opaque. The process is now clear to me and if you are interested in historical processes and get a chance to learn it, I strongly recommend it.

Before I go much further I must apologise for the quality of these images. I'm hopeless taking phone photos! I put a couple here in the hope that their beauty might be visible.

Charlotte Pass - carbon transfer print on Yupo

Cameron Offices - this one is particularly difficult to photograph - it's on glass, and you can see the shadow.

Trees in the mist, Blue Mountains - carbon transfer print on paper (sorry about the distortion - the paper was curling at the edges and I didn't have anything to flatten it with).

If I ever work out how to take better photos of them with my phone or buy a scanner, I'll put up some better images.

The images I have included are created from negatives derived from digital files.

The fascinating aspect of the process for me is that the thickness of the gelatin layer depends on the amount of UV light that reaches it. With one layer it's difficult to see the bas relief effect unless you have the image at the correct angle to the light. Some artists create four colour prints (CMYK), or even 5 colour, and each layer adds to the bas relief, creating a beautiful 3 dimensional effect.

The other wonderful thing about carbon transfer prints is that they are the most stable of all the types of photographic prints.

... and of course, it's slow printing. So very different from producing a print from a digital image on a printer.

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