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Pulling the Pieces Together

March 16, 2011


It's been a year. A tough year. The crushing responsibility of caring for an elderly family member through a long, horrific illness followed by death, and the accompanying legal labyrinth. Somewhere in the middle of it all I remembered how important it is to fit art into 'real' life. I got a little digital point&shoot to keep in my pocket. It's amazing how comforting just having a camera at hand can be. I didn't have great expectations about it as a tool for art, but I was wrong. It actually makes a great silvergum image capture camera and silvergum printing fits easily into a fragmented schedule. I've done a lot of silvergum printing this past year. But, I am very grateful to be able to get back to where I left off so many long months ago — making roll film.

There must be a balance to the Universe because the whole endeavor has been nothing but serendipity and enjoyment.

I jumped back in with subbing acetate film. I made a big batch of sheets and almost all of them turned out great, but my husband begged me to quit. He absolutely hates the smell of acetone and acetic acid. (I love it. No accounting for taste!) Turns out he did me a huge favor. I went searching for a commercial product and found one that succeeds beyond expectations. It's Dupont's Melinex 535. 535 is "a high clarity polyester film that is two-side pretreated to promote adhesion to aqueous based coatings." Unlike corona discharge treatment, chemical subbing doesn't have a finite lifespan and there's no danger of fogging an emulsion. I made an emulsion coating well with a 2-inch cavity to use with a five-inch puddle pusher. The coating procedure is the same as for paper.



I thought I'd be using only old, cheap cameras. I didn't imagine I'd be making roll film that I'd dare run through expensive, high-quality cameras. Absolutely delighted to be wrong again. Emulsion on 380 gauge '535' handles exactly like commercial roll film. The day I went out shooting with handmade film in my favorite camera, a Fuji 6x9 cm rangefinder, was the day I knew all the pieces had come together.

(Continued tomorrow.)



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