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I managed to sneak in a few hours in the darkroom today which was both unexpected and productive. As i mentioned in the blog post Experiments, my next step was to sandwhich the negatives together and use pen around the edges to see if it helped blend the seam a little more.

First, though I had to remove more of the emulsion. I purposely decided to make the edge rough and ready in the hopes that it would disguise the join a litte better. Next came the boring part - the rinse and wait. It's frustrating as I don't have a negative drier so I'm always left twiddling my thumbs everytime I alter the negative again - I even tried using a hair drier to speed the process up but it still takes time and patience has never been my strong point.

Whilst I waited I decided to use the time playing with two other pens I'd sourced. Still using green and black I took the original practice negative and coloured it a little more. Below I've marked the newer black pen with a star and the newer green with an arrow.

This time the green worked wonderfully, blending into the tree bark on the print whereas the black gave a lighter, inconsitent coverage. Both would work given the print has a lot of texture because of the woodland background so I decided to apply both to the sandwhiched negatives (once they had mostly dried).

As I was applying the pen, I had to keep wiping the green pen off. For some reason it did not like the surface of this negative. Because of this I got a very uneaven application. I also chose to add in black where the darker area's of the negative would have been in order to try and blend it all together a little better. I also tried to stipple using a cotton bud to aid the blend but because of the raised negative where I'd stuck the second down, it was not successful.

Given that these are all experiments, I didn't want to change too much all at once so I decided to get a print at this point and see what it looked like:

I was thrilled with the results, it's the closest yet, to what I imagined all those months ago! The join is still visible but it doesn't grab your attention like in the previous prints, in fact, with just a little more playing I think I could pretty much erase it given a little dodging and burning in the printing process.

In all, the three hours spent playing, waiting and printing yielded some fantastic results and I can definitely see many possible ways forward. In the new year I'm hoping to finally perfect this print (I mean, I've only been working on it since June!) and then I can start playing around with adding colour. With any luck I may find some time over the Christmas period to get in the darkroom and start trying out the print on Fibre Paper as up until now it's all been Resin Coated. This will alter the look and the seams all over again (but Resin Coated is much cheaper so best to practice on that till you're somewhere like where you want to be). And who knows, Santa might bring me some 16x20 Ilford Multugrade warmtone Fibre Paper for Christmas then I can really go to town on this print!!

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