I had this idea to try making Black and White gum prints using a single negative but with multiple exposures. Recently I experimented with using gray toned Rives BFK with a negative and a positive. I printed the negative using black pigment and the positive using white pigment—the gray would provide a neutral ground. This idea was inspired by old master drawings where charcoal or ink was used on a “non white” surface (often tan) for shadows and white Conté (or similar material) for the highlights. The results were promising as evidenced by the test print below where Black and White pigments were printed with a negative and positive over Van Dyke that was printed with a negative.
I approached the new B&W workflow by eliminating the positive with white pigment and the gray Rives BFK. Instead I use a single negative that I register on a piece of white Rives BFK with multiple exposures.
Making the Print: Cyanotype
I use Cyanotype as the first layer to add detail and enhance the D-max. I do a 20-minute exposure (no greater than step 3 to avoid altering the color balance) before any gum layer is put on.
*I use Winsor Newton Lamp Black for sets 1-3
I expose (about 1 min 40 sec) and develop enough to achieve slight tone in step 3.
SET 2: I then increase the Gum to Sensitizer ratio to 13:11 (for greater contrast) and expose (about 6 min 30 sec) and develop to achieve slight tone in step 8.
SET 3: I increase the Gum to Sensitizer ratio again to 14:10 and expose (about 1 min 15 sec) and develop the long enough to achieve slight tone in step 3.
Final layer (gouache) Using the same 14:10 ratio and the Cyan negative I do a short exposure (about 30 seconds) with Lamp Black. Repeat if necessary for greater D-max and greater depth in the print.