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Does alum go bad?

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  • sidestreet6862
    Hi all. I m marbling for the first time in two years. I m doing everything like I ve always done -- same paints, same paper, same alum, same procedures. Paints
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 11 12:04 PM
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      Hi all. I'm marbling for the first time in two years. I'm doing everything like I've always done -- same paints, same paper, same alum, same procedures. Paints seem fine. However, on the paper, the colors are weak and faded. I can think of no reason for this except the alum.

      I mixed a new batch of alum (double strength) and now have a host of additional problems. The alum I'm using is from Colophon but it is several years old. It's been stored dry in a dry climate. Can it have gone off somehow?

      Also, if I need new alum, will grocery-store alum suffice, as I need it now?

      Many thanks for any help.

      Marc Horovitz
    • dguff
      I once used grocery store alum and after mixing it I filtered it through a coffee filter to take out any additives. It worked fine for me, using acrylic
      Message 2 of 4 , Feb 11 12:42 PM
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        I once used grocery store alum and after mixing it I filtered it through a coffee filter to take out any additives. It worked fine for me, using acrylic paints. It was something I had to do immediately, so couldn't wait for delivery of marbling alum. Worth a try.

        d.guff


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: sidestreet6862
        To: Marbling@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2010 12:04 PM
        Subject: [Marbling] Does alum go bad?



        Hi all. I'm marbling for the first time in two years. I'm doing everything like I've always done -- same paints, same paper, same alum, same procedures. Paints seem fine. However, on the paper, the colors are weak and faded. I can think of no reason for this except the alum.

        I mixed a new batch of alum (double strength) and now have a host of additional problems. The alum I'm using is from Colophon but it is several years old. It's been stored dry in a dry climate. Can it have gone off somehow?

        Also, if I need new alum, will grocery-store alum suffice, as I need it now?

        Many thanks for any help.

        Marc Horovitz





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • David Graham
        Only alum I ever use is canning alum / grocery store alum. It s an inorganic compound. Stored dry, It can t go bad If it seems to act strangely, I d look
        Message 3 of 4 , Feb 11 2:53 PM
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          Only alum I ever use is "canning" alum / grocery store alum. It's an
          inorganic compound. Stored dry, It can't "go bad" If it seems to act
          strangely, I'd look to the water, size, or paper as the problem.
          Dave in SD

          On Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 2:04 PM, sidestreet6862 <bannerworks@...>wrote:

          >
          >
          > Hi all. I'm marbling for the first time in two years. I'm doing everything
          > like I've always done -- same paints, same paper, same alum, same
          > procedures. Paints seem fine. However, on the paper, the colors are weak and
          > faded. I can think of no reason for this except the alum.
          >
          > I mixed a new batch of alum (double strength) and now have a host of
          > additional problems. The alum I'm using is from Colophon but it is several
          > years old. It's been stored dry in a dry climate. Can it have gone off
          > somehow?
          >
          > Also, if I need new alum, will grocery-store alum suffice, as I need it
          > now?
          >
          > Many thanks for any help.
          >
          > Marc Horovitz
          >
          >
          >



          --
          "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest
          of the world."
          John Muir

          I love winters -
          best, those truly worthy of
          folks' usual complaints
          D.L.Graham, Jan 10, 2010

          One can only see what one observes, and one observes only things which are
          already in the mind.
          Alphonse Bertillon


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • enidadams
          Hi Marc, I hope you figured out what the problem was. I have just gotten back to marbling after not printing for a long while and was releived when it all
          Message 4 of 4 , May 2, 2010
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            Hi Marc, I hope you figured out what the problem was. I have just gotten back to marbling after not printing for a long while and was releived when it all worked, but am familiar with the mysterious frustration when it doesn't. My theory on the colors looking weak:

            1) paints may have settled and most of your pigment load was in the bottom, therefore colors not as concentrated
            2) too much time elapsed between aluming papers and marbling them, and/or direct sun on papers before printing, can make the alum less effective
            3)temperature and/or humidity--could papers have been less dry?
            4)if you were using municipal tap water, the water treatment plant "shocks" the system with chemicals from time to time--perhaps it was a water issue.

            Is it possible you forgot how much you need to compress the colors to make them look strong on the paper? If you don't do it as a rule, try putting gall water down first.

            For a nearby resource of alum without mail order when you need to get to work right away, try the local garden center or farmer's coop, as aluminum sulfate is sold there as a fertilizer. Dry alum does not go bad but alum in solution definitely weakens. Alum mixed too strong can contaminate the size quickly and cause other problems.

            May the marbling muse be with you next time you try it!

            Best wishes,
            Enid



            --- In Marbling@yahoogroups.com, "sidestreet6862" <bannerworks@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hi all. I'm marbling for the first time in two years. I'm doing everything like I've always done -- same paints, same paper, same alum, same procedures. Paints seem fine. However, on the paper, the colors are weak and faded. I can think of no reason for this except the alum.
            >
            > I mixed a new batch of alum (double strength) and now have a host of additional problems. The alum I'm using is from Colophon but it is several years old. It's been stored dry in a dry climate. Can it have gone off somehow?
            >
            > Also, if I need new alum, will grocery-store alum suffice, as I need it now?
            >
            > Many thanks for any help.
            >
            > Marc Horovitz
            >
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