dry mounting non-hardened fiber base prints

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Previous posts have suggested ways to prevent or reduce the curl of fiber base prints. I'm going to try fixing my fb prints with Kodak Rapid Fixer, omitting the hardener, then drying the print face down on a screen. But since the emulsion will not be hardened, I'm wondering how the finished print will stand up to the heat of a dry mount press. As of yet I don't own or have access to a press, so I have no way of running a test myself. I'm also a little apprehensive about the long-term permanence of the non-hardened print. (And while we're at it, any tips on the use of the Kodak fixer without solution B would be appreciated). Thanks for any replies.

-- Nick Jones (nfjones@pitt.edu), March 28, 2001


Nick: I do it that way all the time and usually I have no problems. I watch the temp on my press very closely, never allowing it to go above 205F and always using Seal release paper. The only problems I have ever had have been with Ilford Multigrade Warmtone FB that has been sepia toned. This softens the emulsion quite a bit, and maybe I would be better off if I hardened it after toning and washing. But, if I keep the temp on the press low enough, it works fine too. Working with Rapid Fix without the hardener is about the same as with hardener. You do have to be careful with the print surfaces, especially if you squeegee after washing and as you wipe any loose dust particles off when you are mounting. But, other than that, I have no problems with non-hardened prints.

-- Ken Burns (kenburns@twave.net), March 28, 2001.

Nick, in addition to Kens comments, use Seals archival dry mount tissue as it only requires 170 degrees F. and is easier on the print. Also it is heat releasable. As far as squeegees go, the best I`ve found are the ones that window washers use. Place the print face down on a piece of smooth plexiglass or {usually I use the side of the print washer} something, and squeegee from the back side. Prints that I`ve mounted twenty years ago look fine today, other than the fact that my technique has improved dramatically over the years. Oh, by the way, using Seals, release paper in the press is also a good idea, as it helps to keep your prints nice and clean. Good luck, Steve

-- Steve Clark (agno3@eesc.com), March 28, 2001.


I have never used a hardner in my fixer, and have never had any quality control problems or damage dry mounting fiber base papers. This holds true for any fiber base paper I have used up to this point. So based on my years of experience, I would say you should have no concers whatsoever.

-- Jim (jimzpace@yahoo.com), March 29, 2001.

Nick, I also want to add that I use Kodak fixer without solution B. I also air dry my prints face up.

-- Jim (jimzpace@yahoo.com), March 29, 2001.

Nick: Once the print is dry, there is little if any difference between a hardened and unhardened print. You may need to be a little more careful when the print is wet, though. I use the low temperature dry mount tissue made for color prints for all my dry mounting and it works well. Non-hardened prints are also easier to spot, as a too hard surface doesn't want to accept the spotting fluid. Saint Ansel recommended print fixer without the hardener, and his prints seem to last pretty good.


-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), March 29, 2001.

Good advice above. I only have one thing to add. Be careful with placing the print face down on a screen. I did this a couple of times and got a screen impression on part of the print. I dry face up now after a good squeege of the print emulsion.

-- Gene Crumpler (nikonguy@att.net), March 29, 2001.

It's time consuming but I believe it's important to lift prints (placed face down) and reset every so often during the drying stage. This breaks the impressions that Gene notes.

-- David Stein (DFStein@aol.com), March 29, 2001.

I must admit, I don't know anybody who uses hardener in their fix. I've never seen the need to, and toning is more effective without it.

-- William Levitt (Light-Zone@web.de), March 30, 2001.

Same here - never used hardener, never had a problem. Like Gene, I also dry my prints face up to avoid screen impressions on the print surface!

-- Andreas Carl (andreas@physio.unr.edu), March 30, 2001.

Using a hardener in the fix doesn't affect the permanance of the print. It makes the surface more resistant to scratches while its wet than a print fixed in a non-hardeneding drying. Since it's relatively easy to remake a print that becomes scratched somewhere during processing, few people see any advantage to using hardened fixer for prints, particularly in view of the fact that there are some disadvantages to doing so (longer wash times, difficulty in toning, etc.) It's a different matter with negatives, where replacing a scratched negative is much more difficult than replacing a scratched print.

I flatten all my prints in a dry mount press. The time and temperature aren't critical. Try something like fifteen seconds at 200 degress or thereabouts. The hotter the termperature and the longer the time, the more the print seems to curl, so I try to keep both to the minimum amount necessary to remove the waves at the edges of the print. However, I've inadvertantly left a print in the press for as long as fifteen minutes or so without starting a fire or doing any apparent damage to the print. Not something I'd recommend, just illustrates that time and temperature aren't something to get too excited about.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis60@earthlnk.net), April 01, 2001.

Another little trick. Place 3 or 4 dried prints in the press while it is still hot, then turn off the press and let sit all night. The next morning, the prints will be REALLY Flat.

-- Gene Crumpler, NC (nikonguy@att.net), April 02, 2001.

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