Printing Photos onto 3D Glass

Silver gelatin B&W printing doesn’t have to be onto paper- this is of course the easiest choice, because papers are readily available from Kodak, Ilford, Bergger, etc. In this article I will explain how I print onto glass, which is one of my favorite surfaces.

SchoonerThe glass can be anything from window panes to costly hand blown Steuben, but in this example I have used a pyramid-shaped piece of cast glass I have made, measuring about 5” high and 4” wide [Figures 1,2]. I will explain how the glass is poured and finished another time.

I first clean the glass, coat with gelatin, and then in the dark room set the glass on supports so that the surface to be printed onto is horizontally aligned with the enlarger negative. [Note that you will need to determine the proper exposure settings first, and for this I generally use a piece of window glass coated with emulsion and positioned the same distance from the enlarger lens as the glass.] For this particular piece, I have made a V-shaped cardboard cutout to support the glass so that the entire surface is the same distance from the negative. The print is then made and hand-carried through developer, fixer, and water, followed finally by archival toning with selenium. I find that selenium toning gives the print a warm tone. (These are standard dark room techniques that can be found in many published books and magazines.)


Another challenge, and perhaps the most important, is to print the right kind of photograph on the right shape of glass. In Fig. 1, I believe that the tall 12 meter yacht belongs nicely on the triangle. On the other hand, a complex landscape picture, or even a Maine lighthouse photo, would seem out of place. In other words, the viewer does not want to have the glass piece overpower the photo.