Thursday, June 24, 2010

eggs on eggs

What else should one start with, when printing using the albumen method, other than images of eggs? First, take three dozen eggs, and separate the whites, and whisk them, and then mix this up with some tapioca starch which has been mixed with boiling citric acid and sodium chloride. Then coat your paper - by soaking it, and then squeegee-ing off the syicky substance without leaving any bubbles. Then hang it up to dry.... Then give it two coats of 15% silver nitrate, and place your negative on it, and rush out into the shade for, say, four minutes, and then the sun for one. And then you scuttle inside again, and bathe it in salted water with citric acid, then fresh running water, then drop into toner for 5 minutes - we were using gold-ammonium thiocynate toner - then rinse again - then fix in a bath of sodium thiosulfate - then clear in sodium sulfite - then wash in running water. And then, if you're lucky, you get a print like the one in the middle.

One of the things that I'm really learning this week - apart from all the chemistry - is how good it is to spend time really, really concentrating at something, and trying to get it absolutely right. So what if it takes an hour to make a print that doesn't quite work? One learns from that, one makes adjustments, one tries again - and tries, also, to remember to make further adjustments, because of the sun being higher, or behind a cloud, or whatever (and then, sometimes good stuff happens by accident, in any case). There is something very zen about this - on the other hand, it's odd doing this within a group, because I find myself heading more and more into myself as I do it... It is a wonderful antidote to digital near-instantaneity, and a million times more satisfying.

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