Print Photographs in COLOR on METAL Gifts (Jan, 1935)

Print Photographs in COLOR on METAL Gifts

YOU can inject a personal note into your Christmas gifts this year by placing on them photographs of yourself, of friends or of scenes you have snapped with your camera. Any smooth surface can be treated in this way, including metal, wood, glass or composition. The pictures are permanent, can be made in any color, and have the shiny, glass-like appearance of glazed enamel.

As an example of a home shop project easily treated by this process, the construction of a copper envelope holder, an always-appreciated gift, will be explained. Secure a piece of 6 in. by 10 in. sheet copper of about No. 16 gauge from a plumbing shop. Make sure that it has no dents or scratches. A shaping form is made of 1 in. wood, 5-1/2 in. wide and with one end cut in a curve or design. Mark the copper, at both ends, with the same design, but allow 1/4 in. on the edges for turning over. Round all sharp corners of the wood form. Then, with a wood mallet pound down the edges of the copper. Turn the sheet over and pound the edges back down on themselves carefully, using light taps to avoid buckling. This reinforces the sheet so that it will be rigid when it is bent into a “U” shape. Allow 2-1/2 in. for the bottom; one side is 3 in. high, the other 4 in. high.

With fine pumice or some other good abrasive polish the side that is to receive the photograph until it is smooth and glossy. Dry the surface carefully, and see that no bits of lint or other foreign matter which would cause specks in the photograph adhere to it.

You can get small sheets of clear gelatine at the drug store; soak several in cold water until they are limp. Heat a pan of water; into it place a wide-mouth bottle containing four or five ounces of water. Add just enough of the soaked gelatine to make a solution of the consistency of syrup. This must be filtered twice through a wad of cotton in the neck of a funnel, so that it will be entirely clear and free of lumps and particles. The “sensitizer” is a simple solution of ammonium dichromate. Dissolve as many of the red crystals in an ounce of warm water as possible. Add sufficient of this solution to the liquid gelatine to give the latter a deep orange color.

Coating of the cleaned copper surface is done in a room with a yellow light. The light from an ordinary bulb covered with a thickness of yellow paper will be entirely safe. Flow the orange gelatine solution over the copper surface while the latter is held level in one hand. Drain the excess solution back into the bottle to be used again. Allow the gelatine to drip from one corner of the copper while holding it over a gas or electric stove, letting the copper become warm, but not hotter than the hand will bear. Within two or three minutes the gelatine will have dried down into a shiny film, and it can be placed in a print frame under the negative.

The exposure is made about 20 inches from an open arc lamp, and will require from one to three minutes. You can also use direct sunlight. In either case, make a note of the time for future guidance. The exposure is correct when you can see a faint brown image of the picture on the coated copper. If you do not give the correct exposure the first time, wash off the copper (again polishing with pumice) until it is clean, and coat it with the gelatine.

The exposed copper is removed from the printing frame, in the yellow light, of course, and placed in a pan of cold water. This will wash out the orange chemical in the gelatine. Now place the letter holder in a pan of tepid (not warm) water for several minutes. You can then drain off the water and remove the surface moisture by a very careful brushing with a wad of clean, slightly damp cotton.

Have ready, beforehand, a glass plate on which you have worked up a bit of printing ink with an ordinary hand printing or proofing roller. You can borrow one from your job printer. Ordinary printing ink can be used, but if lithograph ink is available, use it.

Inking is done in white light. Pass the inked roller over the moist gelatine surface again and again, until the picture appears in the density you wish. It will be clear, with every detail showing. Allow the picture to dry and then spray it with clear lacquer.

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