FB Print Drying

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I have just started printing with FB paper. I am using accepted archival procedures but have noticed that once the prints are dry the edges are rippling, not terrible, but enough that I need to flatten them out before they are mounted. When I stack them under weights some of the prints are developing creases where these ripples are. After the toning process I run the prints through. The procedures that I am using are; Develop 2 min, Stop 15 sec, 1st fix-2 min, 2nd fix-2 min, wash 10 min, tone w/selenium 6 min, wash 3 min, hypo clear 2 min, wash 20 min, diluted wetting solution rinse for 1 min. After wiping down the prints I lay them face down on screens and allow to dry overnight in the darkroom.

Could the curls be the result of too much humidity in the room? I do have a drum dryer that I could soak the prints again and dry on the dryer.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks, Bob

-- Robert Bedwell (rlb@triad.rr.com), May 12, 2000


Fiber-based paper dries with ripples and curls. One way to avoid it in drying, you could buy a drier -- typically a high-gloss metal plate, flat or in drum shape, with canvas cover. The metal plate can be used when prints are placed facing the metal to produce the ferrotype high gloss finish that comes these days on RC glossy papers. But when you place the back of the print on the drum, it will dry out and be relatively flat. Unfortunately, the canvas on these driers almost always seems to get dirty and stained, from vaious sources, including sometimes inadequate print-washing. Another way of drying FB paper, my preferred way, is to let them air dry (e.g., on screens) and then press them in a warmed-up dry- mounting press. That takes out any wave or ripple.

-- Sam (sselkind@home.com), May 12, 2000.

I've been air drying my prints for years face down on screens, just as you describe. I routinely place them under a volume of the Oxford English Dictionary to flatten them. However, I have never experienced the creases you describe after flattening.

-- (edbuffaloe@unblinkingeye.com), May 12, 2000.

The problem you are describing has become all too common over the past 5 or so years. I have had similar problems and most often with Ilford papers. The reason for the scalloping of the edges and resulting creases is that the paper is drying under too dry of conditions not too humid. To solve the problem try these few things. Do not let the paper become completely dried out before placing it under a weight. Or - use a common hair drier to dry the print. Start on the emulsion side and when almost dry to the touch flip over and repeat on the paper side, repeat this till the print is dry to the touch and then place under wieght or press.

-- mvjim (mvjim@interport.net), May 12, 2000.

Isn't that amazing! The older threads have just been removed, and the same discussions start over.

Here is my method: I don't want to use a hotbed drier because of its effect on the toning characteristics of many papers, because it would be one more piece of expensive equipment needing space, and a few other reasons. Therefore, I have had quite a problem with flat drying myself. I tried all the nice ways described, such as air drying on screens, drying between blotters, putting prints under weights for weeks on end ... None of the methods gave satifactory results, i.e. really flat prints.

Now I have absolutely flat prints. The cost is a few square inches of print paper and some tape for each print. The method is this:

Get resopal-coated chipboard somewhat bigger than your print, and get a roll of brown packet tape, not the self-adhesive plastic stuff, but the paper tape that has to be soaked to stick. Cut four strips of tape, each about three inches longer than the side of the print for which it is meant. Print with some margin for taping. After washing, put the print on the board, press to the board using a sponge, or a squeegee. Now soak the tape. Before applying it to the print, make sure it doesn't drip any more, and doesn't send droplets running across the print when the board is vertical, for the droplets leave traces on the print surface, and they might also impair the archival permanence of the print. Now tape the print down. Make sure the overlap of print ant tape is at least a centimetre, and make sure print and tape, and tape and board are in good contact. While it is still wet, the tape is pretty slippery, and can easily be adjusted. When all four sides are taped, leave the print to dry. To remove the prints from the board, cut along the print edges with a sharp blade. Then trim off the taped rebate.

There are a few points to be observed:

1) Don't use uncoated chipboard, as the glue from the board might diffuse into the print and ruin it (not today, but in a few months or years). Therefore, use the kind of coated board used for the shelves in kitchen closets. It's quite inert.

2) Make sure there is enough overlap, and contact between print and tape, and tape and board is good. Both print and tape tend to shrink when they dry. The tension this creates can be quite great (you will note this when you remove the print from the board), and sloppy taping means that the connection will fail and the print edge in question will get curled. If this happens, it is not a big problem. Just soak the print again, and dry it again, this time paying proper attention to the taping.

3) The glue of the tape leaves traces on print surfaces, and it might also cause discolorations in due time. Therefore, make sure, the tape is soaked, but not dripping. Personally, I use a spontex cloth to remove all surface water from the tape. The cloth is also fine to press the tape to the print.

To remove old tape from the board, just spray on some water, be patient for a while. The glue is then dissolved again, and the tape can be removed quite easily. Then clean the board.

This description sound much more difficult and time-consuming than it actually is. Try it. It works fine.

-- Thomas Wollstein (thomas_wollstein@web.de), May 15, 2000.

I use Ilford fibre paper and have found that drying overnight on screens followed by about one minute in 225 degree dry mount press to give smooth prints. The prints will tend to curl slightly over time, but they are flat enought to lay flat with a overmat(and flat enought to dry mount with great results). Be sure to use a smooth surface mat board to avoid any embossing. A piece of release paper over the emulsion in the press ensures the ultimate in smooth semi-glossy surfaces.

-- Gene Crumpler (nikonguy@worldnet.att.net), May 15, 2000.

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