Papers for chrysotype

Christina Z. Anderson gives us her best tips for chrysotype papers. If you want to learn more about Chrysotypes, there is plenty to know in Leanne MacPhee’s book, Chrysotype.

Writer and photography / Christina Z. Anderson

Chrysotype: A Contemporary Guide to Photographic Printing in GoldWith the rising cost of palladium, Mike Ware’s chrysotype process is an intriguing noble metal process to add to your alternative process arsenal. Leanne McPhee’s Chrysotype: A Contemporary Guide to Photographic Printing in Gold book contains complete instructions and also a wonderful artist section wherein you can see artwork by veteran chrysotype printers that will convince you to give the process a try.

“Upon purchasing the book and necessary chemistry, your first choice will be what paper to print on. McPhee goes into paper choice and outcome at length, along with a series of actual prints on each paper.”

Christina Z. Anderson
Bucking Horse Sale. Chrysotype by Christina Z. Anderson
Bucking Horse Sale. Chrysotype by Christina Z. Anderson

Unbuffered papers are always the best: Hahnemühle Platinum Rag (HPR), Bergger Cot 160 and 320, Arches Platine and Platine Lightweight, Legion Revere Platinum, and Herschel Platinotype. Buffered papers can be problematic with alt processes (except gum and casein) unless pre-acidified with a sulfamic acid bath.

I ran paper tests with chrysotype (as I do with all processes I practice) and found some surprising results that do not follow what I would expect, having tested 130+ papers with both palladium and cyanotype. Some papers that were not good choices for those processes because of buffering, texture, absorption, humidity, or some other variable, worked well with chrysotype. One reason may be chrysotype’s flexibility with humidity—the process is happy being exposed both bone dry and humid—so it accepts a greater range of paper absorption and humidity variables. With a buffered paper, over time chrysotype-sensitized paper will turn various shades of color towards orange—not a good thing, because at orange the paper barely prints. If you coat and expose within the day, this problem is minimized (I will add that chrysotype is the only process I have ever seen work well with days-old coated paper). Any paper that had some buffering printed predictably slow (10­–12.5 minutes under UVBL versus 5–8 minutes for an unbuffered paper), pinker, less Dmax, and grainier, a cinch to spot in a lineup. However, those listed below printed alluringly which is why they remain on the list.

Chrysotype paper chart

Lil Temptress. Chrysotype by Christina Z. Anderson
Lil Temptress. Chrysotype by Christina Z. Anderson

The following chart lists exposure times along with paper comments. A couple of the papers are a bit borderline, but if you have them already on hand, try them*.

*All step wedge prints were coated and dried at 40% RH for a day, then exposed 10 minutes (overexposure for many) to block up two steps to max “black” to determine exposure time. All papers were post-exposure humidified for 20 minutes. Development was 5 minutes in 1% oxalic acid. Clears for 10 minutes each tray (water washes in-between) in tetra-EDTA, sodium sulfite, and tetra-EDTA and a final 60-minute water wash. Exposure times are relative to this particular “dry” way of exposure. Note: Tween is a surfactant that helps papers absorb the solution better with less runoff, washoff, or bleeding. On thin papers, do not use Tween or else the sensitizer shoots right through the paper. With thicker papers 1–2 drops 5% Tween per mL solution works great.

Arches Aquarelle 10-12.5 100% cotton, neutral pH, gelatin sized. Slower than Bergger or HPR but beautiful smooth tones.
Arches Cover (buffered, slow) 12.5 100% cotton. Surprised this printed well, albeit slow and slightly grainy. The cream color of the paper looks good with the process.
Arches Johannot (buffered, slow) 12.5 75% cotton and 25% esparto, neutral pH. Printed surprisingly well with a deep mauve shadow and lots of blue highlights. Slightly on the grainy side. Nice velvety paper.
Arches Platine 6.5-8 Awesomely smooth paper, perfect for the process. Prints quite pink in the shadows.100% cotton, unbuffered, internally sized with Aquapel.
Arches Platine Lightweight 8 Do NOT use Tween or sensitizer shoots right through paper. It prints beautiful, smooth tones from slightly blue mauve to blue. Very slight pink/blue color speckle differentiation steps 12-15.
Arches Text Wove 10 This paper has a wonderful feel, very thin, eggshell-like, with a woven, fine grained, cold press surface. Slightly cream colored. It prints chrysotype beautifully. NO TWEEN. 100% cotton. Neutral pH.
Awagami Platinum Gampi 6.5 This is a beautifully glossy, sturdy paper. Awesome with chrysotype. Solution did not shoot through even though it is a thin paper but don’t use Tween. Strong split tone beginning two stops in. Very inky purple dark tones with a predominant blue tone throughout.
Bergger Cot 160 10 Beautiful paper equivalent to the Platine LW with a smooth front and lightly textured back. DO NOT USE TWEEN.
Bergger Cot 320 8 100% cotton, unbuffered, gelatin sized. Perfect for chrysotype. Pretty dominant split tones.
Biblio White 150 gsm 10 Made in Germany, 100% alpha cellulose, laid, 2 natural deckles, 2 tear deckles, large, 31˝ x 41˝. Textured but printed smooth and beautifully.
Bienfang Graphics 360 12.5 Tissue-paper thin but sturdy and solution does not soak right through. It does not need to be taped down when coating. It remains flat but expands greatly so there are a lot of wrinkles in the moist paper. At 25¢ an 11˝ x 14˝ it is a steal but for chrysotype you have to be careful about even absorption and it is too flimsy for my liking.
Bockingford (buffered, slow) 10 100% high alpha cellulose, pH neutral, internal and external sizing. Printed very pink all the way down to step 14. Seems to be a keeper.
Clearprint 1020HP Vellum 5 I find this paper to print sort of a typing paper look, maybe not as elegant for the process, though it does print fast and VERY pink. Do not use Tween.
Fabriano Roma 5-6.5 Deep mauves that start split toning 3 stops in. If you can put up with the expense of this paper and the deeply etched parallel laid lines, it prints chrysotype beautifully. 100% cotton.
Fabriano Rosapina (buffered, slow) 10 60% cotton, 40% sulphite. Not sure about this. Printed slightly grainy and slow, so caveats.
Fabriano Tiepolo (buffered, slow) 10-12.5 Printed slightly grainy and slow but didn’t orange; very pink til step 7.
Fabriano Unica (buffered, slow) 10 Surprisingly this printed well. Smooth and grainless. Good Dmax.
Gutenberg Antique Toned 130 gsm 8 Made in Germany, 100% alpha cellulose, laid but lines don’t show in the print, 2 natural deckles, 2 tear deckles, 31˝ x 41˝ so quite large and reasonably priced. Nice antique color with flecks throughout (very very small). Printed beautifully. Of all the antique papers this is inexpensive.
Hahnemühle Cezanne (buffered, slow) 10-12.5 This is a nice paper, sort of eggshell-textured. Color of the paper is slightly cream. Printed smooth and on the slow side, pink down to step 11.
Hahnemühle Platinum Rag 6.5 100% cotton, unknown sizing, unbuffered. Very similar to Bergger. Perfect for chrysotype. Predominant split tone.
Hahnemühle William Turner (buffered, slow) 12.5 A white paper with a soft, velvet texture not quite cold pressed but not smooth. It prints somewhat fibrous and did turn slightly orange in the one day set time but it prints purple and I would use this paper but not let it set more than a few hours before exposing if you like deep purple.
Heine White 150 gsm 6.5 15˝ x 18˝, mouldmade in Germany, alpha cellulose, lightweight, neutral pH, 2 natural deckles, 2 tear deckles. Printed fast, beautiful, smooth.
Indigo 10 Beautiful colors. Paper is very white and textured and thick. If texture is your thing, this is good. Gelatin size.
Khadi Cotton and Plant Paper 8-10 The banana paper is slightly rosy, with very prominent flecks throughout. The laid lines are fairly prominent. Use more solution perhaps, watch paper flecks dominating image. Works well enough but not my first choice due to texture.
Khadi Cotton Rag/LW Cotton Rag 12.5 Keeper. Soft, yellow cream, or natural color, prints very pink in shadows, textural and absorbent. Papers are internally sized and externally sized with gelatin. LW is very light.
Lanaquarelle (Hahnemühle) 10-12.5 Printed well, very pink in shadows, smooth tones, I think it yellowed a bit before exposure but not enough to affect printing. 100% cotton, internal and external sizing.
Legion Folio (buffered, slow) 12.5 Very smooth paper but it printed chrysotype speckly. Very pink with little split tones. I would try this again but it’s a bit iffy. 100% cotton.
Legion Masa 6.5 It is quite thin but sturdy, very bright white, very smooth, very absorbent and prints fine detail. No Tween or chemistry will shoot through to the back. It wrinkles a lot so it isn’t my favorite. 100% sulphite. It looks a bit cheap.
Legion Revere Platinum 8 Great paper for chrysotype. Printed quite blue as predicted with pre-exposure humidification 25 mn (very blue). 100% cotton, sizing unknown, unbuffered. Predominant split tones with post humidification.
Magnani Acquerello Portofino 5-6.5 Surprisingly good. Printed smooth and pinks down to step 14. Fast paper.
Magnani Pescia 6.5-8 100% cotton, light sizing. It printed very smoothly and dark tones. Definite keeper which surprises me since I don’t prefer it for other processes.
Pergamenata Parchment 6.5-8 Very unusual paper with its parchment look, teeny speckles. Printed deep, well. 100% sulphite.
Rives BFK 280 gsm (buffered) 6.5 Feltlike softness and excellent wet strength. Printed with some white fibrous splotches but still printed OK.
Rives BFK Heavyweight 175 gsm 12.5 Even though labeled “heavyweight” this paper is thinner than Rives BFK 280 gsm. Nice cream color and velvety feel. Prints beautifully and is good if cream and soft are what you want. Do not use Tween. 100% cotton.
Rives de Lin (buffered, slow) 12.5 Slow paper, prints similarly to Turner, a bit fibrous. I would keep on the list. 85% cotton, 15% linen, internally sized, neutral pH.
Rives Lightweight 115 gsm 10-12.5 The paper prints beautiful tones, though the tones are muted. SMOOTH. The paper is slightly cream. I am surprised that it looks good, because Rives papers are buffered. No Tween. 100% cotton, internally sized.
Ruscombe Mill Herschel Platinotype 5 Perfect for chrysotype in every way. Very textured paper but texture is smooth and crisp unlike a cold pressed WC. 100% linen/flax, not cotton, Aquapel sized, unbuffered.
Saint Armand Colors 5 The paper is fast and textured. Printed with lots of white teeny spots like I didn’t use enough solution. Too textured for my tastes but the color is very purple to blue.
Saint Armand Old Masters (Frobisher) 10 I love the white eggshell color and texture of this paper! Do not use Tween, and do not touch the surface of the paper during processing because it abrades. The tonal range is awesome from blue mauve shadows to blue highlights. Linen and cotton rag, 90 gsm.
Saunders Waterford (buffered, slow) 10 100% cotton, gelatin sized, pH 8.5 buffered. Turned light orange in 24 hr. It wouldn’t be my first choice of paper but print within the day and it works adequately.
Somerset Satin (buffered, slow) 10 Prints fibrous and is almost there to be a good paper but would not be my first choice due to the graininess of it. However, the colors are quite mauve pink throughout if wanting to print a pink fibrous print. 100% cotton, sized, comes in satin, velvet and textured (satin is smooth). I bet with pre-exposure humidification it’d be better.
Twinrocker 3-6.5 The solution will shoot through the back of the thinner papers so be careful and don’t use Tween. The watercolor papers have an additional gelatin surface size. Printing times ranged from 3–5 for some and 6.5 for others like May Linen LA.
Velky Losiny Moravia 6.5 Awesome paper! No bleeding, thick, sturdy,textured cold press that is not as textured as Moldau and has almost a laid surface with minute lines. Bright white, prints deep mauve brown to blue. 85% cotton 15% linen.
Velky Losiny Prague 8 Prague is textural, very soft, cold pressed; in comparison to St. Armand Old Masters, for instance, the bumps are bigger and flatter, not eggshell-like, and the paper is not as crisp. Don’t use Tween. 85% cotton, 15% linen. Also available in cream. Don’t touch the print surface while wet because paper abrades easily. Treat it like a washi.
Winsor Newton Watercolor 6.5-8 I am shocked this paper printed well but it did. Fairly smooth and good split tone. Bright white. Split happens about 3 stops in.
Wyndstone Vellum 6.5 Thinner than Opalux, thicker than Vidalon, but feels the same weight as Vidalon after processing. Be very careful with coating as it’ll pool and puddle and create uneven blue tones in the image area. Though it printed well, good color, I am not thrilled with vellums. No Tween. Lignin free wood cellulose. Opalux is easier to locate.
Zerkall Frankfurt 5 Very surprised how well this printed. It is a yellow-cream paper with wavy laid lines. Prints crisp and deep mauve brown. Splits about 3 stops in. No Tween. Cotton and high alpha cellulose, pH neutral.
Zerkall Nideggen 10 If you don’t mind wavy lines and a paper-bag tan, this prints beautifully. The deepest step is very purple.NO TWEEN. Cotton and high alpha cellulose.
Near Avon. Chrysotype by Christina Z. Anderson
Near Avon. Chrysotype by Christina Z. Anderson

Christina Z. Anderson’s work focuses on the contemporary vanitas printed in a variety of 19th century photographic processes. Anderson’s work has shown nationally and internationally in over 120 shows and 60 publications. Anderson has authored books which have sold in over 40 countries—The Experimental Photography WorkbookGum Printing and Other Amazing Contact Printing ProcessesGum Printing, A Step by Step Manual Highlighting Artists and Their Creative PracticeSalted Paper Printing, A Step-by-Step Manual Highlighting Contemporary Artists, and Cyanotype: The Blueprint in Contemporary Practice; also Digital Negatives with QuadToneRIP, Demystifying QTR for Photographers and Printmakers co-authored with Ron Reeder, and Handcrafted: The Art and Practice of the Handmade Print co-authored with Wang, Jianming, and King. The Experimental Darkroom, her newest book, will be released fall 2022. Anderson is Series Editor for Focal Press/Routledge’s Contemporary Practices in Alternative Process Photography series and Professor of Photography at Montana State University. To see her work, visit

“Chrysotype” is part of the series Contemporary Practices in Alternative Process Photography
Chrysotype: A Contemporary Guide to Photographic Printing in Gold by Leanne McPhee

Chrysotype: A Contemporary Guide to Photographic Printing in Gold

by Leanne McPhee

An affordable way to produce permanent prints in gold. By using film or digital negatives, striking hand-coated prints can be created.

Christina Z. Anderson's books
Gum Printing and Other Amazing Contact Printing Processes

Gum Printing and Other Amazing Contact Printing Processes

by Christina Z. Anderson

10 of 10   Rated 9,89 - based on 234 votes

Currently not available new, but try second hand copies from Amazon: A Manual of Gum Dichromate and Other Contact Printing Processes. Packed full of information.

Gum Printing: A Step-by-Step Manual, Highlighting Artists and Their Creative Practice

Gum Printing: A Step-by-Step Manual, Highlighting Artists and Their Creative Practice

by Christina Z Anderson

A step-by-step description of the gum printing process and showcases of artists’ works ranging from monochrome to colorful and from subtle to bold.

Salted Paper Printing: A Step-by-Step Manual Highlighting Contemporary Artists

Salted Paper Printing: A Step-by-Step Manual Highlighting Contemporary Artists

by Christina Z. Anderson

The history and the process: from beginner to intermediate level, with step-by-step instructions and troubleshooting.

The Experimental Darkroom by Christina Z. Anderson

The Experimental Darkroom - Contemporary Uses of Traditional Black & White Photographic Materials

by Christina Z. Anderson

Second hand copies of the previous book "Experimental Photography Workbook" can be bought from Amazon: Learn about a variety of alternative photographic processes. A technical book highly recommended both for beginners and pros.

Cyanotype: The Blueprint in Contemporary Practice

Cyanotype: The Blueprint in Contemporary Practice

by Christina Z Anderson

Contemporary Practices in Alternative Process Photography

Digital Negatives with QuadToneRIP: Demystifying QTR for Photographers and Printmakers

Digital Negatives with QuadToneRIP: Demystifying QTR for Photographers and Printmakers

by Ron Reeder and Christina Z. Anderson

Fully explores how the QuadToneRIP printer driver can be used to make expert digital negatives.

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