Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print. Engineers used the process well into the 20th century as a simple and low-cost process to produce copies of drawings, referred to as blueprints. The process uses two chemicals: ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide.
Cyanotyping is a process I have wanted to try for a long time; I am always trying to make interesting images out of my photographs using alternative processes. I have tried acrylic image transfer and I have made lino cuts and prints based on my photos, . This is a much more direct way of making photos and photo prints, using photosensitive paper and items (either photo negatives or any random items) directly on to the paper to mask its exposure to light. I have wanted try this for so long that I have had the chemicals, dry, un-mixed, in my kitchen cupboard for so long that i am wondering if they have gone off…
I decided it was time to get my act together and actually go somewhere where there was someone who knew how to do this thing and was willing to teach me! So, on Saturday I went on a Cyanotype Printing Masterclass at the Surrey Art School. It was run by the lovely Ellie, a photography and print specialist and founder of the school.
It was a fantastic course in an absolutely stunning location, the studio is absolutely lovely and Ellie was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. She took us through the whole process from coating the paper to placing your items, exposing them in the sun and rinsing the prints off. She had also pre-coated some paper for us to use, coating your paper in bright sunshine doesn’t work that well…it is photosensitive after all :-D. We also got some spare coated paper and unmixed chemicals to take home so we can keep practicing!
This was my first attempt, I learned pretty soon that the shaft bit on the feather was too thick and was lifting the rest of the feather away from the surface of the paper.
If things are sitting up above the paper like this, the light can get underneath and the edges will be fuzzy…as you can see 🙂
This is a good lesson to learn 🙂 and that is the whole point of going on this sort of course, you learn what to do but also make mistakes and therefore learn what not to do.
I am obsessed with feathers at the moment and discovered that peacock feathers work really well for this process. I also took some of my own photos what I printed on to acetate. I completely forget to make negatives of them first so the resulting prints are negative themselves, but I like them, they look like blueprints 😀