Trying a New Way to Add an Edge to the Subject

Close up of a Fine Art Gum Bichromate Print of a beautiful woman

I've been playing with edges within photographs for many years - here I'm playing with masking fluid to create a sharp edge on a face in profile.

I'm using the image I call The Knowing Smile, which you can see in the Gum Gallery. I want to bring out the face more by only preparing part of the paper where the subject is - with a loose edge except around the face.

I'm using Saunders Waterford 300gsm watercolour paper HP. With gum solution from Intaglio Printers and a saturated solution of ammonium dichromate. Pigment from tubes of Winsor & Newton Cotman WaterColours (not weighed).

Using my lightbox, I lay the negative pigment side down with the paper on top - and sketched round the subject on the side of the paper I'm going to coat.

I also mark the edge of the image for later alignment.

preparing the paper for gum bichromate printing jpg
Preparing the paper for gum bichromate printing

I'm not used to this masking fluid and ruined a brush. The result was a little rough and possibly could do with being a little wider

Preparing the paper with masking fluid for a gum bichromate print

I used 50:50 gum to ammonium dichromate (3.9ml each) with Cerulean Blue Hue (W&N 139) and Lamp Black (W&N 337)

It is a little spotty once the masking fluid was removed. Need to get better at painting this stuff on.

The paper prepared with the gum bichromate layer before exposure

And a complex edge elsewhere. Especially around the back shoulder and the top of the hair.

The full paper prepared for gum bichromate printing

Align the negative with the marks made previously. The negative has been calibrated fully to my kit and is printed with my Epson inkjet printer

Aligning the negative with the prepared paper for gum bichromate printing

Then the glass plate and weights.

In case your wondering those are old hip replacements. I have them legally as part of my other profession (but that is another story). They work well and bring me luck

Holding the plate glass onto the negative and prepared paper for gum bichromate printing

Seven minutes under the black light blue light box

Exposing a gum bichromate print

I use a forced wash of warm water, which takes a few minutes. The spottiness on the edge of the face has gone.

The result is more mottled than I expected - but I do love the effect it gives. And I so love those edges.

I force dry also with paper towel off the image and a hairdryer - drying both sides of the paper

The final Fine Art Gum Bichromate Print of a beautiful lady

I don't know about you, but that I am very pleased with this - wabi sabi

Lessons Learnt

  1. This is a thoroughly practical approach - though the application needs to be done with care
  2. If you don't 'soap' the brush beforehand you can ruin it