One of the most interesting and original DASS™ techniques is the use of patina aluminum plates as the substrate for archival pigment transfers. It is where we usually begin with new students as it is exciting and easy. This was an original idea of Bonny Lhotka as outlined and explained in her second book, The Last Layer.
This concept harkens back to the moment in photography that metal plates and chemicals were exposed to produce small portraits of extreme clarity and focus. Unlike later paper based photos, these metal gems were treasured in ornate "union cases" , many times lined with velvet and trimmed with delicate gold washed brass findings. Some were really quite small , the size of a postage stamp, and actually are referred to as "gem" tintypes. But bigger or more diminutive, tintypes have a particular magic that is undeniable and they still exist today as vintage collectibles and in fine art museum collections. You may even remember seeing the very famous portrait of Abraham Lincoln as a youngish man or other images of the 1850s in books or documentary films.
DASS™ Modern Tintypes begin as mill finish aluminum plates and go through a process of chemical reactions acquired by a sustained hot water bath of 150 degrees with the addition of over the counter chemicals and dishwasher detergents. Found objects are "cooked" on top of the plates and leave a "ghost" resist and along with the movement of the hot water create one of a kind abstract images which can vary from light gray to pitch black.
Cleaned and prepared, your pigment images are transferred to these plates with WonderSauce™, then dried and the residual emulsion delicately washed off.
The fun begins when you have a stack of prepared cooked plates and can match your photos to the abstract results in a pleasing or unusual composition. By cooking plates with a "sweet spot" as a frame for a portrait you really merge the old with the contemporary using the lighter area as the target and leaving the " way out" patina marks as the background. You will be amazed at how this can transform almost any image into its own version of modern photo composition.
NO PHOTOSHOP was used on the above plate images! This is all about the 1/1 plates and your own artistic eye , they can be as simple or as complex as you invent! This is a hands on process that can produce some outrageous images!
Not too long ago I had to cook 1000, (yes, three zeros!) 5x7 plates for a high school grant project.. I cooked, and cooked and cooked and then cooked a hundred extra.. I used plastic bangle bracelets to make a circle sweet spot for the students to transfer their selfie portraits. There were so many fabulous variations! I edited out the best weird ones for my own studio uses, and we used the lighter cooked ones for the project so that all students, no matter their ethnic heritage, would look happy and health! Many of them were their own works of art, monochromatic abstractions , which I have scanned for further inventions...
Christine Ellinghausen, 2016