The Albumen Works had the great pleasure to host an albumen printing workshop in the early part of December for Peter Mustardo, Richard Stenman, Amanda Maloney, Michelle Kloehn, and Alison Rossiter from The Better Image as well as Nora Kennedy Sherman Fairchild Conservator of Photographs and Maggie Wessling, a student intern, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The weekend opened on Friday afternoon with Doug Munson giving a short history of the process and the science behind why and how it works. Doug has been making albumen prints since the 1970s and has printed a large number of historic 19th & 20th century negatives and glass plates by such photographers as Eadweard Muybridge, Carleton Watkins, Edouard Baldus and Eugene Atget for a number of public institutions.
From there the participants were taken through the initial stages of creating the albumen for coating. Separating the egg whites, salting the albumen, coating the paper both for large quantity processing as well as for “domestic” use. Once the basic process from the coating through the hardening to sensitizing of the paper had been demonstrated the participants began in earnest making prints and experimenting with the process.
The participants brought a number of different negative media to use during the workshop as well as having sent a group of digital files that were tailored to match the albumen printing process and made into film negatives by Emily Phoenix using an LVT film recorder. These materials ranged across the history of photography; prints were made from glass plates, antique film negatives, calotype negatives, and photograms were all attempted as were digital images originating from a smart phone!
There were several auxiliary demonstrations given by the CAW staff: Ki-Joo Kim demonstrated wet mounting prints from the mixing of the paste to the final pressing of the image between blotters on an iron book press. Emily Phoenix gave a brief overview of the LVT system and how we produce digital film negatives.
Given the professional interest in the process by the participants there was a great deal of informal experimenting going on throughout the weekend as different negatives were printed, printing times tried and toners used or not used. Nora Kennedy investigated the production and printing of “matte albumen” and by the time the last participant reluctantly left Sunday afternoon, there had been more than 100 prints made by all.
It is always a pleasure to host such an interesting, and convivial group of colleagues and we are looking forward to our next historical process workshop.