Buxton Platinotype – Part I

_mg_1430In trading some e-mails with Mike Ware, he suggested I might try Buxton paper from Ruscombe Paper Mill in France. The paper was developed at Mike’s instigation for use in alternative photographic processes. Properly called Buxton Platinotype by the mill, Mike describes its creation and properties extensively on his web site.

Fine art paper manufacture is an interesting business. I ended up speaking over e-mail with Chris Bingham, founder of Ruscombe Paper Mill, in January. He said they were taking pre-orders for a production run later this year. Five months later I received an e-mail from Chris saying the paper was ready and being packed, and I asked for 200 sheets. Paid by credit card, the paper arrived quickly from overseas by normal post very well packed in a wooden box that I’ve decided to hold on to to reuse.

Buxton paper specifications are:

Buxton Platinotype
240 gsm (120 pound)
56 x 76 cm (about 22 x 30 inches)
100% cotton
Internally sized with an alkylketene dimer

Buxton Label A couple things here. First, this is a fine handmade made in limited quantity during specific runs. Second, I was unable to find a source in the United States that carried it, and had to order it directly from Ruscombe Mill. Third, this paper is not a cheap date, though it seems Chris gave me a great discount on 200 sheets at €8.65 per sheet ($12.25). A general description of their paper making process can be found on their web site.

I took Buxton out for a spin by doing a small edition of prints with a 50%/50% Platinum/Palladium mixture. Kim Weston uses this standard mixture for his prints, and develops in cold Potassium Oxalate. I would say, the addition of platinum yields a cooler tone than pure palladium. The mixture is made using the ratio method of contrast control which I’ll describe in more detail in the future.

Platinum Nude: © Brian Pawlowski 2009I mixed fresh batches of ferric oxalate solutions A and B (B providing the contrast control). And added the precious metal solutions in 1:1 ratio of platinum and palladium. I rod coated the paper, spreading a bead along one end of the paper. With a contrast mix of 1, my print times were 50 seconds.

I’ll talk more about my impressions of using this fine paper in Part II of this article. Suffice it to say I made the prints, and mounted them just in time for a signing of a limited edition portfolio of my recently published book with two prints, including the platinum print of Helena curled up in the irrigation pipes.

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  1. […] factors affecting strength and curling, and his work with Ruscombe Paper Mill to design a paper for alternative printing processes provide a wealth of detail that may help the practitioner puzzle through problems in the dim […]

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