Sunday, October 07, 2012

Building the Darkroom

This week I gathered materials to convert the spare bedroom in the house to a darkroom.  The biggest challenge for this project was going to be sealing off all the windows to prevent light leakage and constructing some sort of entry/exit mechanism to lightproof the area around the door.

So first we cleared most of the furniture and clutter our of the room and off the walls, leaving the desk so I would have somewhere to put the trays of chemicals I will need to use for the photograms.

Sealing the windows was actually fairly easy.  All we needed to do was buy some insulated weatherproof board, cut it slightly bigger than the height and width of the window, screw it into the drywall, and caulk around the edges.  That created a good enough seal to keep out the light.  For this window in particular, we will later be installing a standard bathroom vent type device to ensure good ventilation.  For that, we would need to keep the window slightly cracked at all times (which is why we got the weatherproof board, and cut a small hole in the bottom of the foam board so that the vent can suck air through the space in between the board and the window.  Since the mechanism for the vent will be outside and going over the window, we should be able to seal the edges in a similar way to prevent light leaks.

For the door, we bought some PVC pipe and blackout curtain material that we made two makeshift quarter-circle drapes out of.  To mark where the drapes were going to go, we held a Sharpie against the door and let it mark the ceiling as we opened and closed it to see the area the door would need to travel.  We ended up having to break the pvc pipe in a few places to get the curve we wanted, so to hold the pieces together we threaded some rope through the pipe and then rolled the curtain over to lock it in place.  We then screwed the pipe into the ceiling with drywall lock screws and attachments and attached the sides of the curtains to the drywall by screwing them into some spare pieces of board we had laying around.  Against the bottom of the door we attached a weatherproofing strip so that no light could leak in through the bottom of the door, where a large hole had been chewed by a mouse at some point or another.

This is the desk that we left in the room to use as a worktable.  The three plastic bins near the wall are what I will be using to store the chemicals and paintbrushes while I'm working.  To the left of the table you can see a large roll of thick brown cardboard.  I'm going to use this to protect the floor by laying out overlapping strips along the ground and stabilizing it by taping it down with blue painter's tape.  The cardboard was relatively cheap so it will be fairly inexpensive to replace and easy to keep clean.

There are a few remaining things to be done, such as the red lighting arrangement and storage for the chemicals, but those will have to wait until my shipments of these materials arrives next week.  Once the floor and vent are installed and all my materials arrive I'll be ready to start making some art!

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