Experiments with Cyanotypes

I’ve been meaning to try my hand at printing cyanotypes for a while. I’ve even had the chemicals to create them at home for a few weeks now. But, of course, there have been a lot of distractions this December … and I have to admit I had been putting it off because cyanotypes looked as though they would be really difficult to do. I was wrong, they’re really easy, and lots of fun too.

I bought a kit which consisted of two bottles of sensitising chemical. The bottles come with powder in the bottom and all you have to do is to top them up with water. When you’re ready to make the light-sensitive paper you combine equal quantities of the solutions and then paint the mixture onto the surface of the thing you’re going to print on. I used card because it had a nice textured surface … you can even paint onto fabric … but that’s for another day! I painted on the solution then left the card to dry overnight in low light.

For this one, I made a simple photogram by placing cutlery onto the dry surface then left it outside. The chemical needs UV light to work and sunlight is fine. Now it was very overcast yesterday but that was enough to make this exposure.

Then I tried something else. As with the image at the top of this post, for this picture I used Photoshop to invert a photo that I’d taken previously, to make a negative. I then printed this onto OHP transparency film (make sure you choose laser printer or photocopier safe). Then I placed this film on top of the dry card and put it outside in the sun (again, hardly tropical here today).

I left the cards outside to develop for about thirty minutes or so mainly because it was so dull. If I was doing this in direct sun on a summer’s day then it would take a lot less time.

The last stage is to rinse the card in water and you can watch the image magically appear.

I’m certainly going to be creating more cyanotypes and, of course, I’ll let you know how I get on.


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