testing bhutan paper with salt printing

You might recognize the err of my ways just by reading the title, but my personal philosophy with printmaking is if you can think it, you can try it.

This Bhutan postcard paper from Hiromi Paper is beautiful. It's weighty, it's textured, and it's handmade, which means it has deckled edges. I'm a sucker for a deckled edge, and they're only $1.50 a postcard. They basically asked me to buy them.

Now, since I am the way I am, I wanted dive in head first with salt printing. When I say this paper is weighty, I mean it. It's a similar thickness to the Swedish dishcloths I use, but that didn't deter me from tossing a few sheets into some casein size.

Of course, since the paper is cellulose based (like Swedish dishcloths) and dense (like Swedish dishcloths) it absorbed an ungodly amount of casein (like a Swedish dishcloth would). The postcards turned into little sponges. They took over a day to dry. I still wanted to keep trying, though.

After exposing, before processing.

After exposing, before processing.

After exposing, before processing.

After exposing, before processing.

Bhutan paper prints similarly to hu'un. Its wonderful, natural texture equates to an uneven absorption of chemistry. The two images above are after exposing but before processing. As you can see, there's a lot of unexposed silver nitrate. Think of it as painting— you have to let your first layer of paint dry before you add a second layer. The thickness of this paper led to upper layers exposing, while deeper layers went unexposed.

After processing, before drying.

After processing, before drying.

After drying and hanging for a few days.

After drying and hanging for a few days.

This paper would most likely require longer bath times to compensate for the thickness, but I wanted to stick with my standard processing to see what it would do. Surprise surprise, the silver nitrate didn't completely rinse out of the paper. This resulted in the images disappearing after a few days (one of those which was spent drying).

In short, it's a beautiful paper. It would be perfect in a hand-bound book. It absolutely does not work with salt, but I'll still try it with cyanotype— not because I want to make a perfect print on it, but because I'm wildly curious and genetically stubborn.