Print Washing Issues

SP-Washer_webWashing prints is set to become more of an issue as time goes by, and as water becomes more of a resource to be conserved. This applies especially to fibre-base papers, where the received wisdom has always been 1.5 hours minimum in running water for anything regarded as permanent. As a consequence of these lengthy wash times, during the 1970’s a large number of what came to be called ‘archival washers’ came on the market, with individual slots for each print.

Around 1998 I had some correspondence with someone who was having problems with uneven washing in one of these, & traced it to excessive water being pumped through, which was inducing a sort of turbo effect. The edges were washing brilliantly, but there was a ‘dead zone’ in the centre.  I started on a lengthy series of tests on washing prints to try to establish some ground rules.
After the first publication an American magazine commissioned me to extend this into a 2-part series and offered (by UK standards) an exorbitant fee, which permitted the luxury of spending the equivalent of several weeks on the task.
Looking for a snappy name I came up with ‘Mysteries of the Vortex’ and the publishers didn’t complain for once.

These are the 2 articles, the 1’st is a general preamble, the more practical stuff is in the second. Thanks to Les Maclean, who transcribed the original articles.