How to make Cyanotypes ...
My latest body of work is an attempt to connect the various creative processes I have been working with over the last decade and integrate them together into a new form. Drawing together photography, found materials, digital design and illustration, I have been aiming to build on these processes to extend my work into new territories.
The culmination of a decade of river living and some difficult life challenges has encouraged me to seek answers in my work as the processof making art is very soothing to me. My current focus is on printmaking using the cyanotype process as a framework for experimentation. Developed in 1842 by the English scientist and astronomer Sir John Herschel, cyanotypes are a photographic printing process using a mixture of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate which creates the vibrant blue of the processed work. The chemicals can be applied to paper, fabric or other materials and then exposed in sunlight. Originally used to create copies as blueprints, I am mapping my own personal history as a kind of blueprint and extending this process into photograms where negatives and transparencies are paired with found objects in contact prints in the sunlight.
Mixing the solution and applying in the dark, the paper or fabric is dried and kept out of the light until ready for printing. Placing all the elements on my sensitised paper in low light, I cover them with glass and expose in the sunlight. Exposure times vary depending on the weather but can be as little as 1 minute to as long as 30 minutes or more. I have had to work quickly - the winter sun graces my house for only a short window of time - and I was often carrying the prints around to catch the sun mid-exposure; getting some double exposures by accident in the process.
Once exposed you wash off the unreacted iron solution (where the sun was blocked) in water. You may follow the process through further with a toning bath of coffee or tea to produce a brown colour. You can also tone the prints to create purples, yellows and light browns using wine, different teas and even cat urine!