'Nother light-proofing question: alternatives to plastic?

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by explody pup, Oct 18, 2006.

  1. explody pup

    explody pup TPF Noob!

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    With great shame, I have to admit my bathroom setup has seen very little use. Only once over the last summer.

    Two things are contributing to this.

    One is my tray setup. Basically a wire shelf resting on the lip of my bathtub. Back and legs quickly start to hurt being hunched over this. But that can't be changed as space is at a minimum (but suggestions are still welcome if anyone has come up with a solution).

    The other is my light-proofing setup. I have 2 doors, and one window. When the darkroom isn't being used, I can't stand to have the window covered. Same with the doors. I'm looking for a quick and easy way to light proof these. I'm currently using heavy duty garbage bags and gaffer's tape for the window and gaffer's tape around the edges of the doors and a towel at the bottom. This works well enough to block light, but setup and takedown is such a pain that I haven't bothered with it for some time.

    So I'm wondering if anyone here has had any luck with dark, heavy curtains. Both doors and the window are recessed between a little bit of wall sticking out. So I was thinking of getting curtain rods that expand when you twist them and hanging a dark curtain from this. Benefit would be having everything up and down in a minute or two and being able to easily store it under my shelf (storage space is also at a minimum). Plus I'm having some issues with air circulation since all the gaps around the doors are taped up.

    Of course there are problems with this. It's going to be difficult to keep the curtains flush against the wall. I could sew in weights at the bottom, but that would probably only help a little. I also have no idea what to use. Black fleece might work (double layered) since it's softer and might conform to the wall surface better.

    Has anyone tried this? Any problems? What else have you tried that has worked besides plastic sheeting?

    Thanks, folks.
     
  2. ladyphotog

    ladyphotog TPF Noob!

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    I will tell you what I did and maybe you can get some ideas from that. I am also in a bathroom, however it is pretty large. I have a shelf that the enlarger is on and the counter is for my trays, I use the bathtub to wash the prints. I also have a drying rack that sits in the bathtub. I have a window with space in it. I have measured and had a piece of black plexiglass cut to fit the window cutout, then I put weatherstripping around the edges. The plex fits pretty snug but the weatherstripping covers any area that light might spill in. I also put weatherstripping on the door so that it is sealed. That way all I have to do is put my plex up in the window, move my drying rack to the tub, bring in my trays and enlarger and I am ready to print. Hope that will give you some ideas.
     
  3. niccig

    niccig TPF Noob!

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  4. nealjpage

    nealjpage multi format master in a film geek package

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    I was thinking of getting some heavy black fabric (like denim) as well for the window and door. According to the gals at the local fabric store, there are fabrics that are totally light-blocking, too, although they did not carry it. I do like Ladyphoto's idea of weatherstripping the door and putting some sort of sweep (or towel) along the bottom and using black plexiglass for the window. I'm going to have to investigate.

    As far as the setup, I plan on mounting my enlarger to a rolling cart so I can stash it in the closet when not in use. The trays are going to go on a card table, set up on blocks, over the toilet, which is right next to the sink. That way I can avoid using the tub for washing. I'll then string up a line over the tub for drying. I think it'll work out well. Now if only I had more cash to start assembling all the little pieces....
     
  5. explody pup

    explody pup TPF Noob!

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    I really like the plexiglass idea, ladyphotog. That would work well with my window. Where did you find black plexiglass? I'm assuming that the supplier is also who cut it. And is the weather stripping on the outside edge (between the plexiglass and the walls) or on the face (between the plexiglass and the window frame)? I might end up going that way.

    The doors are another issue, though. Since this is a rental property I don't want to permanently alter anything. That door kit niccig linked to would be perfect, otherwise. I guess I could try the weather stripping around the frame, though I have had problems before with adhesives pulling off paint when removed. But, I'll probably be here for another 2 years so it might not be that much of a problem.

    This is giving me some good ideas. Thanks, so far.
     
  6. nealjpage

    nealjpage multi format master in a film geek package

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    Hmmm, I thought about that too, Pup. I figure, though, that if you take your time and use adhesive remover, you should be fine.
     
  7. niccig

    niccig TPF Noob!

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    As for plexiglass, I got a clear piece at home depot (for product shots). They had it in several precut sizes, and they also had a cutting machine. Don't remember if they had black though.

    As a side note - if you get plexiglass, don't leave it laying in the floor. If you do, you'll start cleaning your studio, forget it's there, and stump your big toe on it. Then you'll see blood and have to hop to the nearest bathroom to avoid getting it on your brand new light gray carpet :-(
     
  8. Moose

    Moose TPF Noob!

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    What about something like curtain backing that is 100% block out?

    From memory it is a rubber product that is used to block out the sun in bed rooms. It hangs or is sewn to existing curtains.

    Usually sold by the meter and is realitively cheap?

    Disclaimer: I have never used this... but I intend on giving it a shot. If it blocks out 100% sunlight then there is no reason why it shouldnt work.

    Moose
     
  9. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    I used to use blackout material which I got from dad in law, an upholsterer, for the window, around the edges of both I glued velcro strips, this sealed the window and could be pealed off n on in a second, for the door I simply draped a heavy velvet curtain on a rail about six inches above the doorframe overlapping similar either side, I printed mono +colour in there with no probs.
     
  10. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    If you can't find black plexiglass, just spray it with opaque black paint. A couple of coats applied evenly should do the trick. Hold it up to a bright light periodically to check for any cracks that might develop over time.
     
  11. ladyphotog

    ladyphotog TPF Noob!

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    I got the black plex from Home Depot and the weatherstripping is on the edge of the plex so when you set it in the window it goes over the edge of the window. You have to get the wide weatherstripping, the thin stuff isn't enough to do the job. I don't have a problem with the adhesive on the door because I own the house however I have used goo gone and that will take just about anything off.
     

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