Tintypes and Ambrotypes

I have long been an admirer of tintypes, ambrotypes and practically anything vintage. Tintypes became popular in America in the 1860’s. They were easy to transport and send in the mail, unlike ambrotypes which were printed on glass plates. I just finished a workshop at the San Francisco Art Institute and learned all about how to make them. It’s not the easy way to make images. There are many steps involved and the chemicals are expensive, smelly and toxic. However, the images one can make through this medium are so incredibly beautiful. It requires patience and time and I think some magic too. Many images will fail to appear on the emulsion, or the exposure time will vary drastically, or you will forget one of the many steps required to make it happen. Every image will be unique. Here’s a few samples I grabbed off the internet, some of these wonderful tintypes are from the collection of Terry Castle. The last one down there is an image of myself from the workshop, made by a group of students.

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