Shortly about argyrotype

Everything starts and ends with paper and it’s quality. You start by coating the paper with a silver-based emulsion. The layer should be thin, but it depends on the paper how quickly it absorbs liquids. Sometimes the same brand of paper from the same manufacturer can vary from batch to batch due to differences in the pulp used to make it. Especially the handmade papers. If there are imperfections in the paper structure, chemical residues, they can now appear because of the difference in emulsion absorption. If that happens, the paper goes to waste or I develop it as an example for future reference. The emulsion takes between one and two hours to dry in a controlled humidity environment. When it is dry, it can be exposed. It’s a contact exposure, so the print is as big as a negative. Argyrotype, like cyanotype, is UV sensitive, so it is exposed under a UV lamp (UVA part of the spectrum) and takes between 4 and 16 minutes, depending on the paper and the density of the negative. Once exposed, development begins. There are three parts: a 7-10 minute rinse in distilled water to remove excess emulsion, a 2-3 minute bath in the actual developer (sodium thiosulphate) and a 20 minute bath in running water. After development, the paper must be allowed to dry completely, which takes about 24-36 hours in the press. The emulsion changes colour at each stage, from yellow before exposure, to orange and brown during development and drying, to black and white or various shades of sepia after drying. Again, the final result depends on the paper and you can check it when it is completely dry, so if there are any flaws… I start again. My record so far: 19 prints from one negative that didn’t work because of the paper, but I didn’t fail, I found 19 ways that it didn’t work 😉