Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Experimental Cyanotypes

Last weekend I went to the Swansea Print Workshop to an experimental Cyanotype workshop with Swansea based freelance artist Kara Seaman. She demonstrated how we could create detailed photographic images on paper and fabric in this 2 day workshop..  I really enjoyed this alternative and expressive photography process and it has sparked off a new line of creative work for the New Year!

As photography becomes increasingly digital, many photographers are turning to techniques and processes from the dawn of the medium to reinvent their image making. Cyanotype, also known as Blueprint, is an antique photographic process distinctive for its Cyan blue monochrome prints. Invented in the Victorian era in 1842 it was popular within engineering circles well into the 20th Century. 

Anna Atkins brought this to photography and is considered the first person to publish a book illustrated with photographic images. She created a limited series of cyanotype books that documented ferns and other plant life from her extensive seaweed collection. 

Two chemicals are used in the process: Ammonium iron (lll) Citrate and Potassium ferricyanide. These chemicals can be applied to a variety of surfaces and exposed in contact with an object or negative either directly to the sun or to an artificial ultra violet light source. Development simply involves washing with water and allowing to dry naturally.

Below are some examples of my prints I created using this antique photographic process.

One of my drawings exposed onto Bockingford paper
I exposed a positive drawing and actual leaves onto bockingford paper

Finished cyanotype print, I like the interesting washy effect created

Finished Cyanotype print bleached and tinted with tea bags (the cheaper the better!)

Another experimental cyanotype

Experimenting with cut out prints

This is my favourite finished Cyanotype print

Layered cyanotype prints

Tissue paper, interesting shapes created

Crisp silhouette Cyanotype print onto Fabric. Cotton, linen, canvas or silk are all excellent materials for printing cyanotypes onto. Synthetic fabrics are not recommended.

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