Printing on Vellum papers

Some notes on the use of Wyndstone vellum paper Wyndstone Vellum 5pt, # 165 243 (the handling and drying aspects also apple more generally to other vellum papers, such as Reich CT Vellum)

Manufactured in Germany, this paper is ‘naturally’ translucent, as opposed to the more common practice of chemical transparentizing used in the manufacture of most vellums. It has been sized for the reprographic / printing industry (no more details are available at this point), and is slightly acidic. The paper has been manufactured with totally chlorine-free water. Furnish is wood cellulose, using a mixture of hard and soft woods, including some eucalyptus. The US distributor insists that the paper is lignin free.

Cutting Full sheet = 25 x 38 in Can be cut to: 12.5 x 19 (4 pieces per full sheet) 10.75 x 12.75 (6 pieces per full sheet) 9.5 x 12.5 (8 pieces per full sheet) Coating While it may be hardly apparent when looking at the dry, uncoated paper, there is a wire and a felt side that will show up once the print is dry. It is difficult to determine which side is which with the naked eye. When cutting down the full sheet, stack all paper with the same side up. Thus, once you make a first print from the stack, it will be possible to identify surfaces by the way the stack lies. Another, more subtle indicator comes from the curl of the paper: the convex side is the felt surface.

To coat a 8x10in area, 1.3cc of solution is ideal, allowing for 5 passes. The paper is less absorbant than other papers. Consequently, you may feel as though embarking on a fifth pass is risky. Au contraire… Once damp, the paper tends to curl dramatically. A simple method of preventing unmanageable curling from this point on through to drying is by attaching two clothes pegs to the lower end of the paper. The pegs themselves are attached to a ‘cross-piece’ of 3/16″ dowel or plexiglass tube. This structure tends to hold the paper relatively flat during drying. A similar arrangement can be used for the top end of the paper too. Drying Drying times are as normal for other papers (10 minutes at around 40°C)

Assessing exposure During exposure… have a piece of white paper or thin card handy as you prepare to inspect. Slipping it between the coated paper and the negative will make assessment easier. I have also found that it helps to place the contact printing frame face down on a white surface – as i swing the back open and lift the negative, the image projecting through the translucent paper gives me enough information to make rough estimates of exposure. At full print-out, highlight values (zones VII – VIII) are still difficult to see, They will only become apparent once the paper is dry and sitting on an opaque white surface. Processing The paper is very robust and has good wet strength. However, it tends to kink easily, therefore handle with about the same care as with papers lighter than about 160gsm.

Process as normal, finishing with a 20-30m wash in a very gentle flow of water.

Drain dry by placing the washed print on a vertical sheet of plexiglass / perspex or glass. Once all surface water has drained (about 15m), place face up on a screen. Be warned and do not panic: the paper will go through buckling contortions of geological proportions…and then, once dry, will still look very wavy, but somewhat flatter. At this point, the best thing to do is place the print between two preheated sheets of matt board. Press this sandwich in a dry mounting press at around 70C / 160F for about 60 seconds. Callendering The print can be given a very slightly finer surface by a process of ‘pseudo-callandering’. After it has washed and drained, place it face down on a very clean sheet of plexiglass.

Another approach to drying vellum papers is to drain as above then press between dry sheets of blotting paper, rotating the sheets with drier sheets every hour or so, until the print is dry. Finally, press under heat as above.