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Kallitype and Vandyke Brown Print Processes

By: Robert Hirsch

INTRODUCTION

Dr. W. W. J. Nichol invented the kallitype in 1899. The process is based on Sir John Herschel's iron-silver reduction process called the chrysotype (the modern process is provided at the end of this section). This process is similar to platinum printing, except the kallitype image is made up of metallic silver instead of platinum. The kallitype is a simple process consisting of silver nitrate and ferric salt. When the kallitype emulsion is exposed to light, some of the ferric salt is reduced to a ferrous state. The newly created ferrous salt reduces the silver nitrate to metallic silver. This metallic silver is not as stable as metallic platinum. Careful processing, that removes all the ferric salt and nonimage silver, greatly increases print stability.

The kallitype process was never commercially popular because it was introduced at the same time as gaslight papers, which were contact-printing, developing-out papers with a silver chloride emulsion that could be exposed by artificial light. Even more important, the kallitype had an initial reputation for impermanence. When Nichol first unveiled his process, he recommended the use of ammonia for a fix, which proved to be ineffective. However, when fixed in hypo, a kallitype can be as permanent as any other silver-based process. - Robert Hirsch

The VanDyke Brown Printing process, also an iron-silver process, was first written about by Sir John Herschell in 1842, and it was first patented in Germany by Arndt and Troost in 1895. Often confused with the Kallitype because of their similar results, the VanDyke Process is a simpler and less involved process. The VanDyke Brown name was named after the deep brown color that the process produces. VanDyke brown was common in Antoon Van Dyck’s paintings in the 17th Century, and therefore the namesake of the process. Unlike the kallitype process, the VanDyke Brown process does not require a developer and offers less control of contrast in the image, a good contrasted negative is needed here.

The Argyrotype, like the VanDyke Brown and Kallitype processes is based on Sir John Herschel’s argentotype. This process however is the simplest of the three, has a longer shelf life, and improved image stability. The Argyrotype is closer to the VanDyke process in that it does not require a developer. Below are introductory guides to the three processes.

Please use caution when handling chemicals. Make sure to have adequate ventilation and protective gear. Follow guidelines for chemicals purchased.

A Guide to Making Kallitype Prints

Materials:

Kallitype Solution: For mixing your own solution follow instructions below:

 

If you do not want to mix your own solution from raw chemicals, you can purchase an all in one Kallitype powder kit from Freestyle!

 

Solution A (10.0 gm -- Silver Nitrate) + (100.0 ml -- Distilled Water) Mix 10 gm silver nitrate in 70 ml distilled water. Allow everything to dissolve and then add water to make a total of 100ml of solution. Solution B (20.0 gm -- Ferric Oxalate) + (100.0 ml -- Distilled Water)

Mix 20 gm ferric oxalate powder in 75ml distilled water. Allow to dissolve and then add water to make a total of 100 ml of solution. Ferric oxalate takes a long time to go into solution and should be mixed about 24 hours before use. Mixed Solution B will last only a couple of months, mix only amounts you will be using right away.

Coating your paper: In a dark room you will take your uncoated paper and coat it with your Kallitype solution. You can use your negative as a guide to know where you want to coat the paper. Pour a little solution on the center of your paper. Make sure to brush it on evenly, spreading the solution so that no puddles are left behind. Next you can either dry your coated paper with a hair dryer or let it dry on its own in a dark room.

Choosing your Negative: After you have mixed your solution and you have let it sit for 2-3 days, you are ready to begin printing. First, you will have to choose a negative that has good contrast, although this process gives a little room for contrast manipulation, starting with a good negative will yield better results. You can use a traditional black and white negative or you can make a digital negative. Using a digital image or a scan of a negative, you can make a digital negative. You will need to size your image to the dimensions you want your final print to be. You can then invert the image and print on OHP Inkjet paper.

Exposing the Print: Place your negative on top of your paper and place it in your contact frame or place your glass over the two sheets. Expose in direct sunlight, exposure times will vary depending on your light source or the time of day. You can make a test strip and start with times ranging between 5-20 minutes.

Developer Formula: This process requires you to develop the print in order to make the image appear on the paper. You will have to choose from three different developers.

Stock Developer Solution A
(200 ml Distilled water 125°F) + (100 g Potassium Sodium Tartrate)

Stock developer solution B
(400 ml Distilled water 125°F) + (75 g Borax)

First you will prepare both stock solutions listed above. There are three different tone developer solutions you can mix by using different variations of the two stock solutions. You can make black-tone, brown-tone, and sepia-tone developers from these two stock solutions.

Black-tone Developer:

Pour the two stock solution amounts into a bowl or beaker containing the 200 ml of distilled water. Once mixed add enough water to make a total of 500 ml. For this solution the development time will be around 5 minutes.

Brown-Tone Developer:

Pour the two stock solution amounts into a bowl or beaker containing the 200 ml of distilled water. Once mixed add enough water to make a total of 500 ml. For this solution the development time will be around 5 minutes.

Sepia-Tone Developer:

Pour the stock solution amounts into a bowl or beaker containing the 200 ml of distilled water. Once mixed add enough water to make a total of 500 ml. For this solution the development time will be around 10 minutes.

Clearing Bath:

Mix the solid into the distilled water, mix until everything is dissolved. After pouring into your container rinse all the utensils thoroughly. You will place your print in a tray with the clearing bath for 5 minutes.

Fix:

Place the water in a bowl and mix the contents in, stir until dissolved. You will place your print in the Fixing Bath for 5 minutes.

Final Wash:

To increase the stability of your print, you must wash the print thoroughly. You can wash your print in running water for 40 minutes. Or you can wash your print in water for 5 minutes, then do a hypo clearing bath and a final water wash for another 20 minutes.

Dry your print after blotting, with a hair dryer or laying flat in a darkened room.


A Guide to Making VanDyke Brown Prints

Materials:

Van Dyke Brown Solution:

 

If you don’t want to mix your own solution from raw chemicals this kit is available: Van Dyke Brown Powder Kit.

 

Solution A.

  • 9 grams -- Green ferric ammonium citrate
  • 33 ml -- Distilled water

Solution B.

  • 1.5 grams -- Tartaric acid
  • 33 ml -- Distilled water

Solution C.

  • 3.8 grams -- Silver nitrate
  • 33 ml -- Distilled water

Mixing your solution: Start by mixing Solution A and Solution B together, you will add Solution C while stirring and at a slower pace. You can now pour the solution into your glass bottle and set it aside in a cool dark environment for at least a couple of days. The solution has to set, and can be stored from several months to a year, depending on the environment.

Choosing your Negative: After you have mixed your solution and you have let it sit for a couple of days, you are ready to begin printing. First you will have to choose a negative that has good contrast, as the contrast will not be able to be manipulated in this process. You can use a traditional negative or opt for a digital negative. You can make a digital negative by using a digital image or a scan of a negative. You will need to size your image to the dimensions you want your final print to be. You can then invert the image and print on OHP Inkjet paper.

Coating your paper: In a dark room you will take your uncoated paper and coat it with your Van Dyke solution. You can use your negative as a guide to know where you want to coat the paper. Pour a little solution on the center of your paper. Make sure to brush it on evenly, spreading the solution so that no puddles are left behind. Next you can either dry your coated paper with a hair dryer or let it dry on its own in a dark room.

Exposing the Print: Place your negative on top of your paper and place it in your contact frame or place your glass over the two sheets. Expose in direct sunlight, exposure times will vary depending on your light source or the time of day. You can make a test strip and start with times ranging between 5-20 minutes. You will want to wait until the print seems to have a brown tone to it.

Washing and Fixing your Print: Once you have made your print you can bring the print back to your darkroom. Submerge your print in a tray with running water for 5 minutes. You will then place your print in a tray with your fixer solution, this will be short between 30 seconds to one minute. Making sure the image isn’t bleached out all the way. Following the fixer bath you will wash the print for a minimum of 30 minutes in running water or make sure to switch out the water in the tray often. This step is critical in the stabilization of the print. You can then dry the print with your hair dryer or let it dry in a darkened room.

Toning your Print: If you would like to tone your print, with any toner you would do this after the initial water bath and before the fixing step. You can use a variety of toners available. The toning step will be from 5-20 minutes, depending on the toner you select.

Vandyke Brown/ Kallitype Process over Cyanotype: This is recommended if you have existing cyanotypes, or will be making cyanotypes first, as it is better to print VanDyke Brown over cyanotypes than the other way around. Vandyke Brown over cyanotype will bleach parts of your existing image while creating interesting abstract effects in the highlights. This can be a good process for cyanotypes that appear too dark or overexposed, as the Vandyke process will remove some of the darks. For this second printing you will coat your print either entirely or selectively with the Vandyke Brown solution (use a separate brush from the cyanotype one to avoid contamination), let the solution dry, and proceed to print.

You can choose to register your negative or image in the same position or skew the image to have a varied effect. The Vandyke Brown print over Cyanotype will require a longer exposure than a regular Vandyke print, and depending on how bright your light source is you can test a print exposure starting between 20-30 minutes. After exposing, wash your print in gently running water for 20 minutes. The print will dry slightly darker than it appears when wet. Blot and dry your print.


A Guide to Making Argyrotype Prints

Materials:

Argyrotype Solution:

 

If you do not want to mix your solution from raw chemicals Freestyle carries all-in-one argyrotype kits.

 

Mixing Sensitizer Solution:

Mixing Fixer Solution:

Coating your paper: In a dark room you will take your uncoated paper and coat it with your Argyrotype solution. You can use your negative as a guide to know where you want to coat the paper. Pour a little solution on the center of your paper. Make sure to brush it on evenly, spreading the solution so that no puddles are left behind. Next you can either dry your coated paper with a hair dryer or let it dry on its own in a dark room.

Choosing your Negative: After you have mixed your solution and coated your paper you are now ready to begin printing. First you will have to choose a negative that has good contrast, as the contrast will not be able to be manipulated in this process. You can use a traditional negative or opt for a digital negative. You can make a digital negative by using a digital image or a scan of a negative. You will need to size your image to the dimensions you want your final print to be. You can then invert the image and print on OHP Inkjet paper.

Exposing your Print: Place your negative on top of your paper and place it in your contact frame or place your glass over the two sheets. Expose in direct sunlight, exposure times will vary depending on your light source or the time of day. You can make a test strip and start with times ranging between 5-20 minutes.

Washing and Fixing your Print: Once you have made your print you can bring the print back to your darkroom. Submerge your print in a tray with running water for 5-10 minutes. You will then place your print in a tray with your fixer solution, this will be 3 minutes.

Toning your print (optional): If you would like to tone your print, with any toner you would do this after the initial water bath and before the fixing step. You can use a variety of toners available. The toning step will be from 5-20 minutes, depending on the toner you select.

Reading Material: