• Maryanne Royle

Building a Pop-up Darkroom - Part 2; More than a darkroom?



I am currently going through the process of building a portable lightproof tent to be used for chemical darkroom processes and workshops. I am using this blog to note down my progress, struggles and general thoughts.


Over the weekend I had an open studio event at Ebor Studio where I am based. Chatting to all the creatives about my plans has opened up what seems like a very deep well of opportunities for my project.


A simple question - Why only a darkroom?


The space could be so many things; a performance space, a screening space, filming and photography, a sensory space.


A space that is unreal

Cut off

Undefined

Endless and intimate

Needless to say, I am pretty excited at these prospects and will be exploring the potential for my dark space.




Practical updates:


Following my realisation that radiator paint was not suitable for fabric seams, I sought advice from my good friend and knowledgeable maker Jack-Victor Westerdale. He suggested that while screen printing ink may work, it would take a very long time to dry, which will make it inconvenient to patch up. He pointed me towards vinyl tape and a website called Flints.

Flints were extremely helpful and suggested something called camera tape - a kind of fabric tape. I have placed an order and we will see how it goes.

I am pretty pleased that I have avoided having to wait several days for paint to dry, thanks Jack!




To tackle the light leaks from the zips, I have started to cut skirts out of lightproof fabric. It will work similarly to how the zips are covered on trousers and should be pretty effective, convenient and permanent.

Thank you to Bob France for kindly gifting me the fabric.














Next is to find the right kind of adhesive to attach them. On the video I’ve been following here, they used Pattex transparent glue and say that it works effectively. I have a friend that makes clothing so will ask if they have any advice to avoid more expensive and time consuming mistakes.

Let’s talk water and print washing.

In my permanent darkroom space, I have a sink that can have a continuous flow through a print tray to wash my prints and clean my equipment. However, this portable darkroom will not have that luxury, so how can I find the most cost effective and convenient system? I struggle to carry heavy and awkward things due to my disability, so this will need to be factored in too.

My design for this uses 2 x 20L jerrycans with taps, a print tray with a hole drilled in and plug, a hose pipe, a funnel and a sack trolley.

It should be pretty simple, fill up one of the cans, carry it on the trolley, lift it on to the table and use the hose to get it in to the print tray. When the water has been used to wash a few prints, drain it using the hole and funnel in to the other can and repeat. Crude drawing below.



I have placed an order for the jerrycans and sack trolley, now to scroll through Ebay for print trays.

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