Creating a substitute for Faust Transparent Base Test 4

Test Summary: The purpose of this series of tests was to see if mixing Aluminum Hydroxide ( Al(OH)3 ) and Plate Oil #000 would achieve a base similar to Faust Q699.

Date: May 8, 2014
Researchers’ Names: Mike Barrett and Angela Zammarelli
Room Temperature: 70 degrees
Humidity: low humidity
Materials: Aluminum Hydroxide ( Al(OH)3 ), Burnt Plate Oil #000, Burnt Plate Oil 00, Whiting, and Magnesium Carbonate (MgCO3)

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Stage I: Burnt Plate Oil #000 and Aluminum Hydroxide ( Al(OH)3 )

Mix 1: 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil #000 : 1/4 tsp. Al(OH)3 Mixture was very loose, soupy and had visible speckles. Very smooth, without much body. Not tacky at all. It took a while for the Al(OH)3 to mix into the oil.
Mix 2: 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil #000 : 1/2 tsp. Al(OH)3 Again, mixing took a while. The increase in Al(OH)3 gave the mixture more body, but not much. It held its form well and had a buttery/creamy consistency.


Mix 3: 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil #000 : 3/4 tsp. Al(OH)3 Adding more Al(OH)3 gave the mixture a noticeable increase in body, but it was still very loose. The base was very long, and fell in clumps from the palette knife. The mix still had a buttery consistency.

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Mix 4: 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil #000 : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 The mixture ratio here did not stiffen up like previous tries with Whiting or MgCO3 had. This mix was still smooth like the previous 3 mixes, but was a little stickier. It held its form. The consistency was beginning to feel “gummy.” When we did a touch test comparison with Faust, this mix felt very similar, though slightly tackier.

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Stage II: Adding Whiting or magnesium carbonate ( MgCO3 ) to the 1:1 mixture of Al(OH)3 and Burnt Plate Oil #000

Mix 5: 1/4 tsp. whiting : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 : 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil #000 The result was tackier than Faust. The Whiting worked in easily. This mix went too far past our desired results.

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Mix 6: 1/4 tsp. whiting : 1/4 tsp. MgCO3 : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 : 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil #000 The resulting mix came out feeling like Playdough(TM). It had a medium length and was  sticky. This mix was also oilier. At this point, we decided that Whiting was the wrong ingredient to continue experimenting with.

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Here, we decided to try drying out the Al(OH)3 and Burnt Plate Oil #000 with just MgCO3.

Mix 7: 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 : 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil #000 : 1/2 tsp. MgCO3 This mix was getting drier and stiffer, but not necessarily less oily.


Mix 8: 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 : 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil #000 : 3/4 tsp. MgCO3 When mixing with the palette knife, there was a noticeable “tearing” that happened on the surface of the mixture where little pock marks appeared. There was no noticeable particulate in the mixture to correlate this occurrence to. The mixture was also much drier and became rubbery. Not smooth.

Stage III: Al(OH)3 and Burnt Plate Oil 00

Mix 9: 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 1/2 tsp. Al(OH)3 This mixture was soupy and oily but silky and had no body. Like the previous plate oil experiments, it took time to mix the Al(OH)3 into the oil. With 00, bubbles appeared in the mixture.
Mix 10: 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 Still very loose, no body, very light. Getting stickier.
Mix 11: 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 1  1/2 tsp. Al(OH)3 Loose and smooth to work with. No body, but we felt it starting to form. Felt gelatinous.
Mix 12: 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 2 tsp. Al(OH)3 Starting to get more body, still too greasy, loose and long.


Mix 13: 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 2 1/2 tsp. Al(OH)3 Getting a lot of body. Close replication to Faust, but still not quite the same.


Mix 14: 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 3 tsp. Al(OH)3 This mix did not stick to surfaces. Peeled off of glass with little or no residue remaining. Very firm. Does not hold its shape. The surface got very rough when being worked with a platte knife, but quickly relaxed to have a sheen.

Stage IV: MgCO3 added to the 1:1 mixture of Al(OH)3 and Burnt Plate Oil 00

Mix 15: 1/4 tsp. MgCO3 : 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 Very loose. Not much happened. A tad more body.
Mix 16: 1/2 tsp. MgCO3 : 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 Still very loose, not much body.
Mix 17: 3/4 tsp. MgCO3 : 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 Started to thicken a bit. Smooth and silky texture.
Mix 18: 1 tsp. MgCO3 : 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 Started to get a little more body.
Mix 19: 1 1/4 tsp. MgCO3 : 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 Felt firmer, but not buttery. This mixture had a dry feel while still remaining smooth and silky.
Mix 20: 1 1/2 tsp. MgCO3 : 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 Started to feel a bit like Faust. Still has a dry, buttery feel.
Mix 21: 1 3/4 tsp. MgCO3 : 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 Soft, silky, oily.
Mix 22: 2 tsp. MgCO3 : 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 Firmer, drier and stiffer than the 1 tsp. #00 oil : 2 1/2 tsp. Al(OH)3 mix.


Mix 23: 1/2 tsp. whiting : 2 MgCO3 : 1 tsp. Burnt Plate Oil 00 : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 Dry, not as buttery. Has a smooth, loose body and a long drop.

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Conclusions: Aluminum Hydroxide (Al(OH)3) was not the magic ingredient we were hoping it would be. The results we achieved did not get us closer to the characteristics we were looking to reproduce like Faust’s tbase. Experimenting with the binders we used in previous experiments made our base too stiff or gummy to be very useful for intaglio printing. Whiting has an interesting effect with plate oil, making the mix very gummy and stiff. Al(OH)3 on its own did not stiffen the plate oil in ways that were in line with our expectations. Also, the amounts of Al(OH)3 that need to be used make it not very cost effective as it is an expensive material.

Print Test:
Plate Material: Copper
Ink: straight transparent base and Mix 4 (1 tsp. #000 Plate Oil : 1 tsp. Al(OH)3 )
Takach Press Setting: 6
Paper: Hanemeuhle Copper Plate
DSCF2828 Oxidization was clearly and immediately apparent on the tarlatan when wiping the plate. (A fresh tarlatan was used.)
The aquatint areas of the plate also showed the darkened, oxidized base.

Print Evaluation:
This base mix was hard to completely wipe from the plate. This picture shows areas where the base was not fully wiped from the clear areas. Application was to a warm plate. The base mix was very sticky, and felt as though over-wiping could be an issue. Conclusions: Al(OH)3 oxidizes with copper, resulting in ink discoloration. We would like to experiment with the long term effects of using Al(OH)3 in transparent base mixes to see whether the base will continue to discolor and oxidize over time.

Creating a Substitute Test 5 >