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Many Tried

Technical Problems Everywhere

With the end of dye transfer, the limitations of Ilfochrome, and the rapid advance in digital, along with the realization that dyes (such as used in the Iris Printer) were too fugitive (they faded easily) the goal became prints made with pigments. I was familiar with the following:

UltraStable Permanent Color Prints

Polaroid Permanent Color Prints

Traditional Color Carbon Prints

EverColor Prints

Pigment Ink Jet Printers

Our experiences were as follows: 1. Polarid prints had many flaws in the demonstrations we saw

2. Ultrastable prints used half-tone separations and sheets of sensitized pigments. Michael and I worked for the better part of two years trying to find a technique where the pigments would not wash away before transfer. We eventually succeeded (dispite a yellow that was not pure enough) and donated ten prints to Optronics in return for a price break on their scanner. I then called the owner of Ultrastable, Charles Berger, ready to place an order for more materials. He informed me that he had changed the process completely and these would be different materials. Since we had no warning I decided not to pursue Ultrastable any further.

3. Traditional color carbon prints were impractical for many reasons.

4. Pigmment ink jet had not yet established itself.

EverColor Becomes EverColor Fine Art


Going For The Gold

This left EverColor but they would be making the prints rather than me or Michael. Our first exxperiments were promissing although not a good match to the transparencies. Shortly after these experiments I was visited at our gallery/lab in Worcester by Dick Carter the Chairman of EverColor offering me the position of CEO. I am now sure what he knew about me or how. I was flattered and eventually accepted although I would be running a California company from Massachgusets and was not fond of flying.

EverColor was the idea of William Nordstrom a vetern of the graphic arts industry. His idea was to adapt the Agfa Proof process by purchasing fron Agfa special pigments. The nature of the process was that it left a print with only pure pigment on a mylar base, the right foundation for a very long life print.

Dick Carter assembled a group of angel investors and began operations near Sacramento with some success. At their best the prints were superb and all indications wer+++++++e that it was nearly impossible to fade them. The cyan, magenta and yellow pigments came from the automotive paint industry and were chosen for their briliance of color and light stability rather than to match offset printing as in conventional Agfa Proof.

I visited their facility in California and was taken with the quality of their prints, too taken it turned out.

The short version of the story is that Agfa used a roller transport machine for processing.

Roller transport is a risky processx where the surface of the materials must not be affected at all by the processing. In the EverColor facility technicians were pulling sheets of material not fully processed because of potential defects if the materials completed the path through the machine. This led to the single worst engineering misjudgment of my life.

I was so taken with the quality of the prints that I asked if they would move EverColor to our facility in Worcester presuming that I could fix the process. However, I had not investigated it sufficiently before the move.

It took us a long time to realize that the roller transport defects which did not appear in buzy images like mine, were easily seen in areas of clear sky and it was impossible to make the gears and rollers precisely enough to eliminate these defects. Agfa made a special processor for us with all stainless steel rollers and gears in place of the usual plastic, and air shipped it from Belgium to Worcester. It was about the size of two side-by-side refregerators and did not perform any better than the other machines.

Nevertheless, we were prepared to move forward and tried to place an order for more yellow pigment when we were informed that it was no longer available and that Agfa had cancelled the Agfa Proof proccess just as Kodak had cancelled dye tranfer. The board of EverColor declared banruptcy leaving a number of local vendors holding the bag.

The only alternative for printing at the time was the so-called LightJet that exposed Fuji Crystal Archive Paper with lasers. Through excellent color management it made very high qauality prints with suprisely long life on display. However, it still used chromogenic dyes that eventually either faded or stained and so could not be consideered archival. I made prints this way using a local labb that had such a machine and turned the keys in Worccester over to Mark Doyle who opened a fine art printing business using the LightJet. I moved my computers and scanner to my home in Southborough. This was a most depressing time.

In 2005 we moved to a larger space in Northborough and I purchased the first of the Epson pigent ink jet printers, the 9800 that I considered satisfactory for fine art printing. I then upgraded to the 9900 and recently to the P9000, a superb machine. The primary application of this machine will be to make prints for a permanent archive of my work presuming my agent, Joseph French, can find a home for my work. However, it did may the wonderful milkweed in my artist statement. And a few others.

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