Supplies used: The chemicals I used are in the 'Complete Wet Plate Collodion Set for 4x5' from Bostick & Sullivan bostick-sullivan.com/cart/product.php?productid=1077&cat=366&page=1 - the package comes with a guide for mixing the chemicals that makes it pretty easy.
I found a old Graflex Crown Graphic 4x5 camera to shoot with, but you can use pretty much any film camera you can get a plate into (see Ian Ruhter's film vimeo.com/55837466 where he uses a Holga)
Mask: you must have a mask to protect you from breathing in the chemicals!! I bought this mask from Bostick & Sullivan and it worked great bostick-sullivan.com/cart/product.php?productid=763&cat=250&page=1 - if you try to just use a mask from your local hardware store, it won't work. As you can see in the video I tried using one of those, and had a nasty cough soon after.
Gloves: I got a box of black nitrile gloves - you'll want to wear gloves and some junk clothes - if you get the silver on your skin it will leave a brown stain for a few days.
Darkroom: I was lucky enough to use an actual darkroom - if you don't have access to a darkroom just make sure whatever you use is well ventilated. The chemicals have a strong odor and will stink up more than just the room you do the process in.
Step 1: Clean the plate. I poured the collodion on a piece of 4x5 tin plate. There are a couple of different ways to do this but I found that pouring quite a bit in the center of the plate and then moving it to each corner works the best. Pour generously so that you completely coat the plate - if you pour to little it will leave dry spots where the photo won't appear. Collodion should be mixed about a day ahead of use in my experience.
Step 2: Silver Nitrate bath. After the collodion is on, it goes into the silver nitrate bath where the plate sits for 3 minutes and becomes light sensitive. At this time the lights in the darkroom go off except for the safelights which are either red or amber and at a very low power. Wet plate collodion has a film speed (ISO) of approximately 5, so this means that it takes quite a bit of light to affect the plate. Place the plate in gently or it will actually wash away part of the collodion, resulting in blue streaks that you see on some of these photos.
Step 3: Take it to the camera, shoot the photo! Put the plate in an old film holder so that it's light tight. Now you’re ready to take the image. As said before, this film has an ISO of approximately 5 - so you either need directly sunlight exposed for 5-10 seconds, or do like I did and shoot in the studio with a couple of lights at full power within 1-2 feet from your subject.
Step 4: Develop. Back into the darkroom, take the plate out, and cover the plate in developer. Rock it gently back and forth for about 10-15 seconds until you start to see your image appear. If you're shooting on something dark (black aluminum or glass for example) it will show up as a negative first - if you're shooting on clear glass it will show up as positive. Then a gentle water wash until the plate washes off the developer - you'll notice it looks like the plate is waxy at first until the developer washes off. Put it into the fixer and develop for at least 5 minutes - when it's in the fixer for a few seconds you can turn on the lights again, and watch the image switch before your eyes!
Step 5: Dry and Varnish. I just had a drying rack to put the plates on and let them sit for a day or so. The varnish in this kit can destroy your plates because the alcohol is to strong - it's a real bummer to get your first plate done only to see it disappear within 10 minutes. I called Bostick & Sullivan and they recommended putting 1-2 drops of water and that fixed the problem for me. I let the varnish dry over night and it was ready to go. It has a nice smell of lavender!