Words & Pictures Peter Bargh
Colorvir is a magical box of toners and dyes created by French chemist Pierre Jaffeux. The kit comes with a collection of small bottles each that you need to create bizarre coloured images from your original black & white prints. All you need then is to add some developing dishes (ideally at least six), mixing jugs, acetic acid and spare salt. If you don't want stained hands it's worth buying some rubber gloves too. You'll also need plenty of space and ideally running water so if you don't have the luxury of a purpose built/converted darkroom you'll need to take over the bathroom for a few hours.
The bottles are simply labelled A to G and are as follows:
A Blue Toner
B Yellow Toner
C Toner additive
F Freeze Grey
H Violet Dye
I Turquoise Dye
J Red Dye
K Red Polychrome
L Yellow Polychrome
M Blue Polychrome
A 5ml test tube style measure is also provided, along with a bag of salt that's used for cleaning the prints. The process only works with resin-coated papers and care must be taken when you agitate to ensure you get even coverage of the effect.
Unlike some darkroom processes this can all be done in daylight and the steps are simple. Make up a working solution of toner, dye, polychrome or a special effect, pour into tray and then slip a print that you want to Colorvir into the tray. Then agitate gently for the desired amount of time. You can see the effect as you go and pull the print out ready for the next bath or washing.
Unlike normal toners you are not limited to a few shades of brown or blue, with Colorvir you can obtain reds, greens, blue, yellows and any combination by moving from one solution to another. You can also do some crazy things with the special effects.
Using the solariser has a similar affect to switching on a light half way through development. All the edges become defined and then when the print is immersed in a polychrome you a treated to a display of vibrant colours
Freezing the grey helps to maintain light areas of the print by preventing them from being affected by further treatment.
And the sulphuriser does the usual job of delivering a sepia tone along with that old fashioned bad egg smell this one really pongs. You can also use a diluted sulphur bath to add partial sulphuration on any previously toned images. This helps modify tones and can work really well.
There's no real rules to any of the Colorvir processes just follow the basic instructions first to get a feel for the products and then go off in as many directions as you like until you find a formula that works well and creates interesting effects. Dunk, dip and experiment.
Here are some examples that I created with the necessary stages included to give you a few ideas.
Freeze grey + B + C then Yellow Polychrome followed by Blue Polychrome.
Freeze grey + B + C then Red dye followed by B+C+D then Yellow Polychrome followed by Blue Polychrome then Sulphurised and Blue toner.
B+C+D followed by Blue Polychrome
B+C+D then Yellow Polychrome followed by Red Polychrome and finally Blue Polychrome
Freeze grey then red dye
Freeze grey then yellow toner and then red dye
Freeze grey + B + C then Red Polychrome and then Yellow Polychrome
Freeze grey + B + C then Red Polychrome and then Blue Polychrome