The final step in the plate making process is Varnishing. It entails warming both a mixture of Sandrach varnish (resin and lavender oil) as well as your plate via an alcohol lamp (thank you PCC Dentistry for the 90% alcohol solution) and coating your plate evenly so as to create a protective and glossy barrier between your emulsion and the outside world.

It's not a particularly tricky process and I've had great success in the past during workshops, however, I did run into a few issues that I have not been able to sort out yet.  The most disappointing was that I lost some of my image on a few of the plates - and they were some of my favorite plates.  I'm hoping to figure out the cause and prevent that in the future. I'll report back here what I find out.

Presenting to Peers...

Our district Subject Area Committee (SAC) meets two to three times during the academic year and I wanted to share what I was doing with my colleagues so I presented at the Spring SAC meeting and attempted to take a group portrait.

It was an exercise that proved to be more difficult than I expected given the weather, the time-intensive set up and the general difficulty trying to do something for the first time in front of a bunch of people.  It was not unlike trying to parallel park with passengers in the car.  It all was in good fun - but the presentation went better than the group photo.  I'm lucky that I have supportive peers who understand process is all part of the practice. There wasn't a successful image from this portrait in the way that I could show them a good photograph, but I learned valuable information about developing solution temperature and the effects of rain drops on freshly poured collodion, so I will call it a 'win.'

The beginning - with wet plate

This last Spring I applied for a professional development award. The Betty and Richard Duvall professional development award was intended to help faculty at Portland Community College pursue work, research, a project, etc. that would, in turn, enrich their students' learning experience.

I've been playing around with the wet-plate collodion process - only having taken a workshop or two - but never have I done this process on my own.  I was inspired to develop a practice that would allow me to both learn this process well enough to do it on my own but also well enough so that I can develop curriculum around it.



First attempts - in the kiln yard

Today I was able to finally - FINALLY - make my first exposure.

all lined up in the plate holder

all lined up in the plate holder


I took the advice of a number of folks on line and made a test strip.  I found that my exposure should be around 4 seconds - however, I had accidentally opened up the aperture with the dark slide pulled before I started counting seconds. This is typical for me.  So I tacked on another second or two.  I'm very precise.

Plate one:

first exposure of about 6 seconds and developed at 30 +/- sec

first exposure of about 6 seconds and developed at 30 +/- sec

Plate two:

Plate three: exposure - 10 sec / dark slide pulled almost all the way out / develop 1 min / wash 15 sec / fix 5 min / wash 10

Plate four: exposure - 12 sec / dark slide pulled all the way out to avoid black bar / develop 1 min / wash 15 sec / fix 5 min / wash 10



last two plates are sparkly - why?


pushing developing process for too long/far - results in sparkles or spangles