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Cyanotype printing

Published July 21, 2017, by Stina Axelson

I love trying new crafts and especially if it contains printing of some sort, is easy enough to learn and will give you a stunning result. I´ve wanted to try cyanotype or as it is also called sun prints, for a long time.

 

 

A cyanotype is a photographic process that produces a cyan blueprint on a variety of materials. You simply coat paper or textile with Potassium Ferricyanide and Ferric Ammonium Citrate.

The best way to explain the process is to say that the parts of the material that is directly under the objects will remain white, while the rest of the area turns blue.

A little history lesson about Cyanoprints

You might be familiar with the term “blueprint”, a process invented by Sir John Herschel to create low-cost reproductions of technical drawings. Later on, the first female photographer Anna Atkins pioneered using the process for creating books documenting ferns and algae.

 

 

She placed specimens directly onto a sheet of paper, which had been coated with cyanotype chemistry, and allowed the action of light to create a silhouette effect – otherwise known as a photogram.

 

 

How do I make cyanotypes?

There are a few possible methods to create your own cyanotypes. You can mix Potassium Ferricyanide and Ferric Ammonium Citrate, buy a kit or buy pre-coated papers called Sunprint papers.

I couldn’t source the raw materials in Sweden or find a retailer who wanted to ship the chemicals to me, so I went with pre-coated papers. I also thought it would be a good idea to test the method before becoming a hardcore alternative process chemist.

 

A quick craft for a sunny summer day

I ordered the papers online, and a few weeks later it arrived. Oh, the joy of receiving treats in the mail! I saved this craft for a special weekend when I was visiting my brother and his family in the Archipelago and the sun that I ordered specifically for that day also arrived. We hung out on the lawn by the ocean and chatted, made our prints and casually posed with flowers. It was such a lovely experience.

 

 

What you’ll need to create prints of your own

  • Sunprint papers
  • Freshly picked flowers, dried flowers, leaves
  • Sunlight
  • Water for rinsing the paper

 

  1. Set up your workspace outside in a sunny spot.
  2. Gather pretty leaves and flowers to make silhouettes. To make crisp shapes you want soft flat leaves. You can also use pressed flowers, feathers, lace and other interesting objects.
  3. Arrange your plants on the sun print paper, blue side up. Be sure to have your arrangement thought out ahead of time and try and to work quickly, as the image begins to process as soon as the sun print paper is exposed to light.
  4. Place the acrylic sheet over the objects to flatten and hold in place.
  5. Expose the paper to the sun until it turns nearly white (approximately 1-5 minutes)
  6. Rinse the paper in water for about 1 minute.
  7. Lay the print flat to dry.

 

Cyanotypes are cheap, permanent, and allow for a lot of creative experimentation. It´s suitable for all ages, it’s quick and you are sure to get a great result. Totally addictive!

This process was so easy and exciting I can’t wait to experiment with it more. Next time I will try using raw chemicals as it is the most economical option and you can coat fabric and paper of your choice. Imagine all the possibilities; pillows, clothing, curtains to name a few.

Do you have a really great DIY project or tutorial that you want to share with others? Let us know!

Much love // Stina

Stina Axelson

Stina Axelson

Always making and creating and fun to hang out with. She finds it hard to follow instructions and keeps a box of treasured papers.

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