So after the workshop at Lacock there are lots of changes I need to make to the process I have been experimenting with alone at BOM, leading to a whole other set of kit that I need to invest in…
The main things I have learnt relate to the polishing process – there is one process for silver jewellery and a whole other level of polishing to create a surface that is suitable for producing daguerreotype images. So I’ll be ditching the lustre polishing stick which seemed to be the answer to my lack of mirror finish and instead investing in two and possibly three different grades of microfine sandpaper for initial polishing of 800 strokes with each variety – 2,400 strokes to achieve the initial finish needed. It seems that the lustre stick may have been leaving a layer of wax on the plate which affects the fixing of the image making my images disappear.
This sanding will be followed by polish with a nushine silver polish using microfibre cloths and a random orbital sander, followed by removing the nushine with washing up liquid, soap and alcohol then buffing with rouge and my velvet polishing plank and a final buff using carbon lampblack polishing powder. A much more involved polish than I had been using initially to create an immaculate mirror finish.
The second main change I’ll be making to my process involves the silver plate I’ve invested in from Cookson’s. I have learnt that one of the keys to a high quality image is the softness of the silver plate used and this is why dags are often made on silver plated copper rather than solid silver – a softer coating allows for an easier polish and for larger image particles to form. So I’ve bought one plate from Mike to compare the quality and speed (ISO rating) with my silver and may need to invest in plates specifically coated for the purpose of daguerreotypes from Mike. The plates Mike uses are cold rolled silver which has less variables than electroplate where the density of the silver is affected by the current used and the number of plates in the bath to be plated. Also the edges of the plates from Mike are bevelled to make polishing easier – see image below.