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The Beauty of Mordançage July 17 - 21, 2023 Santa Fe

The Beauty of Mordançage July 17 - 21, 2023

Mordançage is a process that alters silver gelatin photographs to give them wonderful elegant or degraded effects. The mordançage solution works by chemically bleaching the print so that it can be redeveloped, lifting the black areas of the emulsion away from the paper which can give the appearance of veils. Saving the veils is Opalenik’s contribution to the process and she is considered the master. The lifted emulsion can be removed or manipulated, creating relief to the image. Each piece is unique.

In this workshop we shall begin with a history of the mordançage process and the work of Jean Pierre Sudre, the French photographer that created the 1960 formula we use today. As her mentor and friend for over 15 years, Elizabeth learned the process directly in his Provence atelier where she also met Denis Brihat. Viewing their original work and other practitioners in Mordançage will add valuable insight into directions for making it your own creative voice.

Together students shall mix the chemistry and begin with an instructor demonstration on understanding the test strips to discover proper exposures for film and digital negatives or photograms. Mordançage takes time to master. Darkroom days will be spent testing various paper and redeveloper combinations, experimenting with oxidation and toners to alter color, hand painting and deciding to save or not to save the veils. Often, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Discussions will also focus on the intent of the final image. Papers, chemicals, and notebooks with formulas will be supplied. Information on negatives, materials, and your papers shall be sent prior to the workshop.

By the end of the workshop, students will have a safe working knowledge of the process with a good foundation for the techniques to continue in your darkroom. After 32 years of committing to the mordançage process, Elizabeth has many possibilities, pitfalls, and discoveries to share to contribute to your successful outcomes. By working with a small group of photographic peers, students can combine information on papers available today to further enhance their creativity. Experimenting is highly encouraged as we share notes with about the multiple choices made. A working knowledge of the darkroom is essential for the most successful outcome. We will also learn how to make the best digital negatives for mordançage.