Van Dyke Brown & Frederiksoord

First of all: Happy 2022 everybody! I hope this year will be even better than last (despite the obvious lows). Let there be light 🙂

There are already some nice things in my 2022-agenda, a couple of exhibitions for example. I might add a post shortly mentioning these events separately. One I just started working on is the one where I have been invited by Joop Vos to join him for an exhibition at Frederiksoord.

Frederiksoord is quite the special place; last year it has been added to the Unesco World Heritage list. “1818: Johannes van den Bosch and his Society of Benevolence want to offer paupers in the Netherlands a chance at a better existence. The Society therefore founded the Colonies of Benevolence. The first Colony was called Frederiksoord. King William I supported the initiative, which received international attention.” ~ as stated on the website of Frederiksoord. Quite the history.

I intend to show Van Dyke Brown prints there, subject still figuring out. As it is a pretty large facility there will be lots of space to present (large) work, hence the choice for Van Dyke Brown prints. I am looking forward making them and spending more time in the darkroom. I might change the way I’m working now though making these prints. I found a new site with more tips on making Van Dyke Brown prints which I would like to share here:

One of the things I noticed is that paper buffered with calcium carbonate are not very suitable for Van Dykes, as you can’t wash out the salts of the fixer completely. Needless to say this will cause issues in the sustainability of the print, which is already a finicky thing with Van Dykes. It’s just I’m simply too poor to dive into Platinum / Palladium (yet) 🙂

Another thing I read is that he uses a slight acetic first rinsing bath. A quote from the website: “It is important that the wash water is lightly acidic, as otherwise insoluble precipitates will be formed that cannot be washed out of the print, resulting in fogged highlights and (unexposed) borders.” So..another thing to keep in mind.

He also uses double the amount of Tartaric Acid in the sensitizer formula. Not sure what that will or will not do. It’s supposed to boost contrast a little. All the other formulas I came across use sort of the same amount I do now, 1,5 gr to 35ml water and this site mentions using about 3 gr to 35ml of water. The rest is pretty much the same ( a tad less Ferric Ammonium Citrate).

Original Van Dyke Brown print before stains

The paper I have used so far, and very much to my liking, is Hahnemuhle Bamboo. Unfortunately this has been buffered using calcium carbonate. I took a closer look to one of the prints I made in 2019 (have to admit I also didn’t follow other rules there to optimize archival qualities; no hypo, no toning etc, so more could have caused the degradation of the print) and it showed obvious signs of stains..ouch..they were not present the day I framed this image. So..besides the fact I will have to turn up a notch on following precise procedures, I will be looking for a more sustainable paper also.

The same but now 2-year old Van Dyke Brown print with stains

Luckily I ran across this extensive paper research by Christina Z. Anderson, no slouch in this area, which I will gladly share here: Paper for Palladium Printing by Christina Z. Anderson. I still have to thoroughly go through the list but the ones I will certainly investigate further are Rives BFK 280gsm, Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag, Fabriano Artistico (actually the first I ever tried a while back) and Winsor & Newton Watercolour. Some of these will have to be acidified to be able to reach a good d-max. I am a tad lazy, I admit, if I find a paper which doesn’t need this treatment; all the better. If a paper with acidifying is so much better however, I will gladly overcome my laziness. Acidifying is done using a ~1% oxalic acid soak. My choice will also be influenced by the ease of availability of these papers. My preference would be to buy them at a local artist supplier, of which there are two actually in the vincinity.

Van Dyke Brown print on Hahnemuhle Bamboo paper – 17 minute exposure – Liège area – 2022

So, a lot to think about, experiment with and simply just have fun; a proper start of 2022 I’d say 🙂

About the exhibition: the exhibition will open on Sunday the 31st of July and will be open for visitors during weekends from Friday til Monday, the final day being Sunday, the 14th of August. I will be present at least the first weekend.

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