Wet Plate Collodion Workshop 09/10-10-09


What a stunning weekend! I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for quite some time and it was fantastic! Jeroen is a wonderful teacher who’s very passionate and has the ability of explaining it all in a nice and easy manner. This has been of great help and I feel much more confident starting with all of this at home than before. It was great fun and very interesting. I regret not having registered myself for the advanced workshop in March 2010 which is, unfortunately, already completely booked. BUT, it was great and I have a good starting point now.

The group of people was luckily kept very small, only 7 people. They were all very nice people and it was really fun spending time with them and sharing our experiences through the day. It was a pretty diverse group as well with people coming from all sorts of backgrounds which made it even more interesting.

Friday Night

We gathered at 19:00 at the Pieter Bruegel Center in Veghel where we started with a cup of coffee waiting for all to arrive. We first introduced ourselves to the group and then went upstairs to learn about the history of Wet Plate. We saw some old plates, including Daguerro types, which are from the days before wet plate, to look at the things they have in common and what not as people tend to confuse the two. After that we went to take a look at the camera, the lenses and the chemicals and to discuss some theoretical things.

The evening flew by and before we knew it it was time to call it a quits.  We went back to our B&B in Veghel and unpacked a bit of cheese and wine we had brought over. A perfect French closing of the day and after that we slept like a baby….well…not me, I was too anxious about the following day so I didn’t sleep much at all 😉


Saturday – The Day

At 09:30 our day started again at the Center and we got ready for the most exciting day of the 2. Jeroen started by mixing the Iodizer which consists of Ether, Ethanol & the 2 salts to show us how it gets done. He also had a premixed bottle which we were going to use as the freshly mixed Iodizer has to sit overnight.

He then showed us the entire procedure, starting with deburring the plate, cleaning the plate, pouring the plate, sensitizing it, photographing, developing, stopping and fixing. After that it was our turn! I think Bart was the first to start and he made a terrific one. His pouring was very well executed and the rest followed pretty easily too. I was pretty insecure about the pouring so when my time came I was really nervous. It was actually pretty easy pulling that off, although that might be just beginners luck 😉               I was also doubting about which fixer to use, we could choose between hypo and KCN, even more so because I could smell the Cyanide pretty good. After I saw the results with the KCN I decided to go for it anyway. Just held my breath a couple of times and it was fine. And the plates too!

Each one of us made 2 plates. One on black glass which is called Black Ambrotype, and one on Alumimium which is called Alumnitype. Even though the Alumnitypes are cheaper and more easy to use as you don’t have to clean and debur  I prefer glass by far. It has more beautiful blacks and I like the extra work it takes. It’s very relaxing and if speed were of that much importance to me I would’ve stayed shooting on film only.

After all the chemical smells of that day, although the ether & alcohol smelled pretty nice, it was very pleasant ending up with varnishing the plates. This mix of Sanderac, Alcohol and Lavender oil really is a rewarding treat at the end of the day. I already bought Liquitex  to varnish my plates at home but after smelling and seeing that I think I will most definitely go for that way of varnishing. I’ll try the Liquitex on the plate Quinn made of me, just because I want to see that varnish too, but the smell has won me over 😉

The fix has won me over too, I guess. I’ll still start out with the hypo but it won’t be long before I order the KCN. All in all it was a day of great surprises and I really feel like I can pull this one off at my home which was my goal in the first place. Thank you all for this wonderful and meaningful weekend!

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