Bromoil First Try – miserable failure

I stumbled upon and interesting series of videos on you-tube illustrating the Bromoil process. It looks kind of fun and is something one could do indoors on cold/rainy/hot day. Basically you bleach your image removing all traces of silver, Fix, dry, rewet, then add a layer of ink where your silver used to be. The gelatin is supposed to absorb the ink while the non-gelatinized portion of the image is mostly water so repels the ink. What you end up with look like an painting of your image. It can be any color of ink you choose.

I have a few test images I can use to see how difficult or easy this process is.

I ordered the bromoil bleach from Bostic and Sullivan, mixed it up, and successfully bleached and tanned two sheets of Ilford Art and one of the same image on Ilford MGFB Classic. The bleach is a bright green color and works quickly to remove the image. I completed removal of the silver with TF4 fixer and washed for 45mins. Then let the sheets dry for about a week. The matrix (silverless gelatin) is a nice light tan color at this point and the image is still barely visible .

After gathering up my bromoil supplies of inks, brushes, rollers, and stuff,I set out to try the inking process. I cut one of the sheets in half so I could work a small area to get the inking process down. It looks easy online.

I soak the half sheet for several minutes in about 75* water. Then I remove the sheet and dry it both sides gently with paper towels. I ink the half sheet all over with the brush is all directions and have a nice muddy grey until I use the foam roller to redistribute the ink. Still a little muddy but I can now see the image faintly. I drop it back into the water and presto the image forms, but without much detail in the shadows. I gently rub it with a cotton ball while still in the water and it moves some of the ink out of the white areas and lightens the shadows. Wow this is really easy. So I set my test strip aside and go about soaking and inking the full sheet.

This is where things fall apart. The full sheet does not perform the same way the little strip did. It inks up blackishly but then fades and gets muddy when re-wetting. I work it in and out of the water several times but can never really get the image defined.

I switch to my third sheet soaking and getting ink ready. Though this time I am trying a sepia ink. Things start out ok, but when I put the image in the water – I have a negative image. No Idea what caused that since I bleached and fixed at the same time as the other two. Except this is Ilford MGFB paper. But the stained matrix was a positive. So wondering if maybe the sepia ink is water based and not oil based. But can is same brand as the black and says oil on it. Gamblin Relief Ink – artists oils.

In summary, Ilford art probably not best choice or at least not a semi busy image on Art , Sepia reversing image, and I smell like mineral spirits. Other than that it was kind of fun.

Step 1 Presoak  top left.  Step 2 Bleach top right and midde right. Step 3 Fix and wash image barely visible, bottom right.  Original vs Inked test strip, bottom left. Click image for larger view.

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