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japan without powdered asphaltum
Posted by: loch ()
Date: January 15, 2011 04:46AM

The powdered asphaltum I ordered isn't showing up, and now the outfit I ordered it from won't return my phone calls.

I desperation, I tried the following:

I scrounged up the old can of roofing asphalt and dug a fist-sized ball of goo out of it.

I dissolved this in about 2 quarts of mineral spirits over a low heat on an electric hot-plate.

I strained it through four layers of window screen to get all the fibers out of it, and then heated and strained it three more times through t-shirt material.

I let it settle, and decanted the top liquid, which I heated ad filtered through paper towels.

This gave me about a liter and a half of japan, to which I added ingredients according to John Coffer's formulas for base and top coat.

The plates I baked with this seem to be just as black and glossy and hard-baked as any I have made with powdered asphaltum.

PS It has been so cold that two plates I shot recently began to freeze before I could get the plate exposed in the camera. The spreading ice crystals made an interesting network of craze-lines across parts of the photographs. Has anyone else experienced a plate beginning to freeze?

Loch

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Re: japan without powdered asphaltum
Posted by: J0B00 ()
Date: January 15, 2011 06:07AM

This has been done before...

Claude Levet, Wayne Pierce, and Will Dunniway have all made plates this way before... Wayne used to have a tutorial on his website about it, but it has since been taken down. Anybody ever hear from him these days? He sure did do some nice woodwork.

Andy

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Re: japan without powdered asphaltum
Posted by: Richard Mellor ()
Date: January 15, 2011 09:46AM

I have never had a problem with this company.
The shipment came fast and the asphaltum was great.
make sure you use "real" mineral spirits. I know home depot and lowes, don,t sell the real stuff anymore.

asphaltum



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2011 09:52AM by Richard Mellor.

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Re: japan without powdered asphaltum
Posted by: joni sternbach ()
Date: January 15, 2011 01:48PM

I recently heard from Wayne--he's out of wet plate now.

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Re: japan without powdered asphaltum
Posted by: Ray Morgenweck ()
Date: January 15, 2011 02:04PM

My very first tintype plates....I went to the end of the street where the county had just laid a big patch, and used that hot tar to seal the edges.

Scraped a bunch of it up with an old knife....and with solvents, filtering...etc...made a bunch of really nice plates which I used that weekend.

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Re: japan without powdered asphaltum
Posted by: loch ()
Date: January 15, 2011 03:22PM

Thanks for the tip Richard! It's always better to do things the right way!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2011 03:23PM by loch.

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Re: japan without powdered asphaltum
Posted by: RobertSzabo ()
Date: January 16, 2011 11:59PM

Ive shot in weather as cold as about 15 degrees and have never had a plate freeze. That was working out of a darkroom in the back of my pickup truck I had at the time. I always keep my chemistry warm though and also my plates. On that trip I had the bottles in a cooler with warm water. They stayed warm enough for me to work for a couple of hours before the silver bath got too cold.

If Im working outside in the cold I will put a couple of plates in a pocket under my coat to keep them warm. If they are larger than half plate though that may not work.

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Re: japan without powdered asphaltum
Posted by: loch ()
Date: January 18, 2011 01:28PM

This is how it happened- I had taken the camera gear on the llamas up the mountain, and camped out- I'm preparing or my walk along the Old Spanish Trail, which begins February 1. Early the next morning, I met a friend of mine who lives way up there and asked if I could take a photo of him. It was about 20F. I had posed him, focused the camera, etc and everything, and just as I was about to put the plate holder in the camera, he ran off, saying, "I have to get MY camera and take a picture of you taking one of me!" (surely that's never happened to any other wet-plate photographer!)

So I waited there for at least five minutes until he came back. I knew the plate wasn't going to dry out, but I was surprised to see the frost crystals when I developed it.

Yes, all the chemistry was cold, having sat out all night. The hypo was even a bit slushy...

I would post the image, but I forgot how to do it here. I can't find the tutorial, so maybe someone can refresh my memory?

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Re: japan without powdered asphaltum
Posted by: RobertSzabo ()
Date: January 19, 2011 02:47PM

Now that you have described what happened I can see how the plate could start to freeze like that. Even if you are out in the wilderness you can always warm your chemistry first. I do it all the time at reeneactments. I will heat water in a tub and put my developer and silver bath, while still in there bottles, in the hot water. Warm slowly so you dont crack them if they are glass. I will also pour some hot water into the wooden boxes that hold my silver bath to warm that. I learned a while ago to ne carefull warming a plexiglass bath. I once cracked the glue seal open on one by pouring hot water into it when it was very cold.

After warming things up this way I can work for a couple of hours before having to pour the chemistry back into the bottles to re-warm them.

Ill have a small cooler on hand that the hot water will go into so it stays warm for a time. When not in use the developer bottle will go back in there.

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