Mistakes with Fiber

For my upcoming collection tentatively titled “White Lies” I’ve been testing a series of different papers. At the risk of exposing myself as a novice, my experience in darkroom photography lies exclusively with resin coated papers. With my first round of prints on fiber based paper, I realized how differently this substrate dries. Typically I hang my prints to dry and they relax with time. This fiber based paper, however, has a mind of its own. I made the rookie mistake of not doing enough research, and decided to treat it like resin coated paper by hanging it to dry. In the photos above, you can see that the paper curled wildly once dry. 

In an attempt to flatten this paper, I soaked it using an orchid watering can and sandwiched it between two pieces of foam board to dry. Once in the foam board, I loaded a wooden board and a small but heavy manual press on top to try to hasten the flattening process. 

On first inspection after 48 hours under the weights, the paper seemed to have flattened! A wave of hubris came over me and I considered this issue resolved. I taped the foam board back together and set it aside for another day just to be sure that it would stay flat. That following day I opened the sandwich and left it open with the print face up for an hour while I cleaned my darkroom. 

To my horror, when I came back to view the print it had almost completely reverted back to its wild and curly nature. Many mistakes were made along the way and I honestly should have seen this coming. My plan in the future is to dry them flat, not hanging, and to flatten them further using a heated press. I’ve purchased a relatively inexpensive one online and look forward to another experiment. Stay tuned for the next series of mistakes. 

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