Flattening FB prints with an iron?

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I've been doing some printing on fiberbase paper. In the absence of a dry mount press, I was wondering if anyone had worked out a safe method for flattening prints with a household iron.

-- Paul Swenson (paulphoto@humboldt1.com), June 26, 2000


I tried it, but it's not very satisfactory. I also tried many other methods like drying under boards between blotters, flattening after drying by storing under weighted boards, ...

I rather recommend different procedure (which I didn't invent. I gleaned its principle from a web publication, and perfected it a bit): Get some inert board (such as plastics-laminated chipboard) and a roll of brown adhesive tape used for cardboard boxes (not the self-adhesive plastics type, but the paper-based stuff that has to be soaked to become sticky). Enlarge the print with some margin, as the parts covered by the tape have to be trimmed off later. Flatten out the wet print on the board, and tape it down along all four edges, with an overlap of at least half an inch. Make sure the soaked tape is not so wet as to drip on the prints as this will cause blemishes on the print surface. Also, the glue is certainly not archival. Both the print and the tape tend to shrink when they dry, so the print dries under moderate tension. When the print is dry, cut it from the board. (You will then note the tension.) The tape will be easily removed after spraying it with water and waiting for some time. The prints are absolutely flat after applying this procedure. You can even do it with prints that are already dry and curled. Just soak them, and proceed as described above.

-- Thomas Wollstein (thomas_wollstein@web.de), June 26, 2000.

I've used an iron to dry mount prints, but not to flatten them. This is one of the reasons that I switched to RC paper a number of years ago. Now that I finally got a used press (12x15) for $200 from a WTB ad on photo.net, I switched back to FB papers. I now wish I had the press 30 years ago! It really is a neccesity for serious FB printers.

-- Gene Crumpler (nikonguy@worldnet.att.net), June 26, 2000.

I would have to second Gene's opinion. For a long time, I tried every trick in the book, then finally borrowed a friend's dry mount press. It was one of those times that you hit yourself in the head and say, "this works so well the first time, how much time and money did I waste being stubborn!".

If you're worried about the cost (as I was), consider that these simple machines last for decades and probably won't be improved, so you really don't risk depreciation. In that respect, a 300.00 dry mount press is considerably less expensive than a 300.00 hard disk drive, for exa

-- bill noll (bill@neoview.com), June 26, 2000.

Thanks for the input. Right now printing on fiber is only an occasional thing for me. Obviously if I get into it more heavily I will have to consider consider the alternatives mentioned.

Thomas the flattening method that you mentioned was one we used in my college printmaking classes for flattening and drying intalgio prints (the paper is presoaked before being run through the press with the plate). Perhaps you could address a concern of mine regarding using this method with FB photographic prints. I'm mainly concerned about the tension/stress that the photographic emulsion is put under after the print is fully dried. I guess it's an issue of the flexibility of the emulsion compared to the paper after the paper has been stretched tight. Am I making sense? what 's your take on this?

-- Paul Swenson (paulphoto@humboldt1.com), June 27, 2000.


If you are not ready to buy a press, I've found this to work pretty well. Dry your prints on a screen or some other clean surface emulsion side up. Wipe or squeege both sides to remove any standing water.

When the prints are bone dry and all wrinkled, take a damp cloth and wipe the back of each print, just enough so that the print will become limp. Then place the prints, up to 5-6 prints at a time, all facing the same direction (emulsion-to-emulsion contact may cause the prints to stick together) and place them between clean mat boards and place a weigh on them. I used about 12 National Geographics for 11x14 prints.

Let them completely dry, typically 12-18 hours, and they will be REASONABLY flat. It is possible to dry mount up to 11x14 prints with a hand iron, but be prepared to mess up at least 1/3 of the prints!

I tried Edwal Print Flattening Solution, but I didn't see much difference when the prints dried.

-- Gene Crumpler (nikonguy@worldnet.att.net), June 27, 2000.

You might try looking up darkroom rental places in your area and see if they have a rate for dry mount presses. I use this approach and it's very handy. It runs me $5 an hour and I can do several prints in that time.

-- rick simpson (rsimpson@adobe.com), July 06, 2000.

Fibre really is a hastle. I find I can't even process them without getting a cinch mark. Gone back to Resin, and if processed properly I cannot see the difference in print quality.

I used to dry them with hanging by the corners and put clothes pegs along the bottom corners to weigh the print down. dries pretty flat.

But of course they are never totally flat, and the gloss finish is pretty awful without some sort of glazing. Neh! I'm determined to produce fine art prints from resin. David Strachan

-- David Strachan (strachan@cww.octec.org.au), July 17, 2000.

Dry prints and lots of heavy expensive art and photography books on top, over night, gets them quite flat but not perfect, of course.If you want prints that will eventually self-destruct like Mission Impossible, RC is the way to go but are they ever flat.Heat press is the ultimate. Steve

-- Stephen Mitchell (mitmad@telus.net), July 17, 2000.


My experience is just the opposite. I got chinck marks on nearly all large sheets of RC paper. FB chink marks, when they occur, can nearly be eliminated in the press. Like I said, wish I had gotten the press a long time ago. A press eliminates the hassels with FB paper.

Also, I wouldn't be reprinting a number of my RC prints on FB now because of the spots that have formed on then in less than 2 years. Not to mention the improvment in print quality. Clyde Butcher has the same problem. I understand that he is having to replace a number of Fine Art prints done on RC.

-- Gene Crumpler (nikonguy@worldnet.att.net), July 19, 2000.

Also, I'm now using Ilford's Archival Process to reduce total processing time. It reduces FB fixing and wash times to close to RC processing times. About 25 minutes from the time the paper hits the developer until it hits the drying screens(without selenium toning).

-- Gene Crumpler (nikonguy@worldnet.att.net), July 19, 2000.

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