What is Collodion?

The Wet Plate Collodion Process originated in 1851 when photographic images were first put onto glass (Ambrotypes) and tin (Tintypes.) It is a very sensitive, temperamental process requiring each piece of glass to be hand-coated with a Collodion mixture (guncotton dissolved in ether and alcohol), light sensitized by silver nitrate, exposed and developed while still wet, and fixed in a solution of potassium cyanide. This process requires precise manipulation at all stages through completion of varnishing the plate with a warm mixture of gum sandarac and oil of lavender. The Collodion technique can be somewhat unpredictable while yielding unique, provocative, very personal, highly emotional imagery.