[Alt-photo] black plague

Christina Z. Anderson christinazanderson at gmail.com
Sun Oct 1 15:43:40 UTC 2017

Anne et al,

Though I do a fair amount of platinum printing and teaching, it is not one of my five processes of choice, so I defer to the experts here. But I saw Anne’s dots in an off list post to me, and they are not pizza wheel marks which are minute pinpricks usually in a row. Hers are those dreaded very noticeable sporadic black dots perhaps 1/4 or 1/2 mm in diameter  referred to as the black dot plague.

>>> I've been buying FeO#1 in
>>> solution from Bostick and Sullivan. Chris suggested I try buying from
>>> Artcraft instead.

The reason for my suggestion to buy fresh chems and from a different supplier was to take “batch” out of the equation, not to impugn B&S in any way. If you have several on the list who bought chems from B&S at the same exact time and from the same exact batch and you are the only one with black plague then that would eliminate that variable but that is so hard to corral. Easier to buy a different batch from a different supplier.

Like the Arches Platine paper I bought from B&S with horrible clear sizing spots, I talked with them about it and since no one had reported a problem to them about the Platine my problem didn’t have credibility or “legs.” I bought a fresh batch from Freestyle which had sporadic spots, enough to still be problematic but not as obvious as the batch at B&S, thus corroborating that it was a larger problem than just a single batch at B&S. When I mentioned it on the list then Gilles chimed in along with others. And then Terri Cappucci on FB started talking about it and was the one who got the ball rolling with Arches, and they corrected it in the batch that came out in April. How cool is that? In the meantime it was truly the bane of my existence with salted paper so I feel Anne’s pain, and I didn’t have an imminent show looming ahead.

>>> Also, I had some Rives paper here from
>>> gumming so just out of curiosity I coated a little of that---the problem
>>> was much worse than on the HPR---larger black spots and more of them.

The fact that it is occurring on two different papers is a good indication it is not the paper but something in the workflow or chemistry happening and Mark’s suggestion about taking from the top of the solution and not shaking the bottle solved someone else’s black plague. 

Dick Arentz’ book talks about this problem and p. 217 says “the cause is unknown.” There has got to be a way to find out the cause or someone out there who already has. I wonder if Art Kaplan at the Getty, or someone else, can use a microscope and see exactly what the particle is composed of. Wouldn’t it be great to solve this problem once and for all? 


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