how you make waxed paper negatives

i’m no expert in this field, i’ve had fun making waxed negatives on and off for a few years.  it can be a messy job and it might not work out very well.  i first saw how to make them by viewing a short video i found in the cyanotype group on flickr.  i’m not sure if i am allowed to link to it here on my blog, but it was posted a while back in a discussion on using paper negatives for cyanotypes.  the  person who posted the video is james harr, and his work is fantastic.  here is a video link to how he explains waxing:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7Fo8seMrFo  i dont’ do exactly as he describes.  i use cheap paraffin,  but still,  his post gave me enough information that i could improvise and have fun.

 

what i do is first get my paper negative.  i don’t have a xerox machine here, or a ink jet printer whose inks won’t smudge or a laser printer.  what i do is i invert whatever image it was in photo shop and put it on a canvas the size i want to have it printed.  most recently it was 4 images on 81/2×11 paper.  the images were digital files from a nikon d200, nothing fancy.  i just desaturated them and inverted them.  i don’t use chart throb or any other programs to make my negatives i just by the bootstraps invert, cut/paste …  and to the copy store i went.  copies are cheap so i got a few of them knowing i might screw up.

i took a small cookie sheet and put it on the top of the stove to get hot to the touch and i put the xerox page in the pan … then i take a block/rectangle of gulf wax paraffin and start rubbing .  the wax melts and i keep rubbing until the paper looks “wet” i turn it over and do the same thing .. then a piece of paper towel i rub as much of the excess of as i can.  it works OK but not very well, i still need to perfect my situation.  depending on how well you rub the wax it might streak or form a texture or just remain as a layer on the paper, that said, the paper  that was once white is now greyish and see-through ( sort of ).

i put the negatives one at a time in a small contact printing frame.  the cyanotype paper i am using was coated IDK 7 months ago so i am not really sure how good or bad it is, it works so i guess it is OK.  i stick it in direct sunlight for as long as i can.  and move it around as the sun travels across the sky.  the wax usually stains the paper a little bit and bleeds but after a long sit in the sun, it seems to do whatever it is that it needs to do.  usually the receiving paper wtih cyanotype chemistry on it is very dark and over exposed.  there are really no details or very few details from the negative.  but i wash it anyways.  i watch the image clear a little bit and a little bit more until whatever it was that i printed appears.  sometimes they look better than others …  after they clear and have been washed for 15 mins, or 35 mins, i put very dilute washing soda and water in the wash water and bleed some of the blue out of the image.  it turns a color of yellowish brown and a little greenish blue.  there are artifacts from the wax in the print and while sometimes they are distracting or might take away from the print  other times they give a layer of texture in the print that i like.  these are small, between 4×5 and 4×6 and i scan them.  and fix them a little bit with photoshop but i don’t do much.  i might boost the contrast/levels a tiny bit, but that is what you do with any scan because of the scan process.  i also might remove a weird blotchy stain or weird artifact from using wax but i don’t really do too much to alter what is there.

 

here are a couple of my last ones i have done :

 

 

window sill detail, vezelay basilica, france

window sill detail, vezelay basilica, france

windmills and field

windmills and field

waxed paper negative from a digital file

waxed paper negative from a digital file

detail of arches, waxed negative

detail of arches, waxed negative

central france, paper negative

vezelay basilica central france, paper negative

 

 

as you can see, these prints can hold lots of detail or none at all,

and they are cheap + fun

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