Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fun in the sun

A little while ago we had some stunning sunny days and I thought to myself - the perfect opportunity to try out that cyanotype paper that I picked up in New York.  It's kind of like the slacker's guide to cyanotype as the paper is already prepared with the chemicals and you don't actually have to do anything much.

I must admit I love those moments of transformation that occur in art - the magic of lifting paper off a plate and seeing a print; pulling paper out of my rust mix and watching the papers dry. Wonderful stuff - so cyanotype is just the sort of thing I am likely to enjoy, alchemy at its best!

I started off with bunch of things to try. Snowflakes cut from milk cartons, a next, some thread and some feathers, some fine organza type fabric, a nest...

This image shows some key just in the sun; and some Habu thread under glass.  I think I need more Habu!

This is how my two favourite images from my experiments came out. After they had been exposed for 15 minutes the paper looked like this. Habu thread first, emu feathers second. I have to say that at this point in the process I was not yet convinced...

And then after washing and drying, this is how they looked. So rich!  I love how as a technique it picks up really fine details - like the twists on the threads and the individual parts of the feathers.

I quite enjoyed the whole thing and want to wash them again to see if I can create sepia tones and  try a few other things.  So far I think the prepared paper has worked fine; altho you are limited to the size it comes in.  I'm not sure where this may go in my art-travels, but it was fun experiment to do on a sunny day.


  1. Hi Fiona, your sunprints/cyanotypes are beautiful. So delicate.
    Did you know you can get a sepia tone by soaking them in black tea or coffee after you've developed them?
    These images would make a lovely little book.
    Susan shared your paper rusting recipe with me and I'm going to give that a try this week. It's all so delicious!
    Have fun with your experiments.

  2. Wow Fiona that's really kool paper, my first encounter - looks like fun stuff to work with.

  3. How cool! I'll look in my Habu stash and see what might work. Then again, your need of more Habu might just be the excuse...errrr...reason needed for a trip to NYC to visit Habu in person.

    Which NYC store did you get the paper in? Might have to stop by that one too!

  4. this is really terrific... this is an artist in a guild i am in who does this on fabric... and i came upon a spray a few months back that can be used... your experiments are gorgeous - and you are so right about the capturing of the smallest details - quite magical...

  5. Cool.... I can see why you weren't convinced at first, but then, wow!

  6. This looks like a lot of fun. I love unexpected results! Yours are great!

  7. yes, fiona, i've been up and down in my enthusiasm for cyanotypes...but some people get great results...yours look promising.

  8. Hi Sam - thanks of reminding me of the tea/coffee sepia look - I knew I had to do something else with them! I hope you enjoy the rusting recipe - but be warned it can be addictive and I usually end up dipping anything that is to hand in it!

    Oh yes Kim - pretty amazing stuff!

    Hi Jennifer - now if your'e headed to Habu do let me know....laugh! I got the paper at one of your favourites - the MoMA store! It is great fun for the kids as well..but you might just want to keep it to yourself for a bit. The real recipes can be use don fabric as well...

    Thanks MJ for the extra info -how cool is the idea of a spray on cyanotype mix? Wow. you guys in the States have access to so much cool stuff -maybe we need to head back for a shopping trip! Laugh again.

    So true Valerianna - it wasn't all that convincing,and then I loved it.

    Thank you Pat - I too love that lack of control (sometimes) and waiting with bated breath to see what happens and if it works. Thanks for leaving a comment, go well.

    I think it is a tricky thing that needs to be done well well V (my others were not done well I would suggest); and I can see the potential; not sure how far I'll take it tho.

  9. I love cyanotypes Fiona and have just restocked my chemicals waiting for some sun here in the UK that will be strong enough to make it work this coming summer. I was thinking about a 'peace' flag using an image but you could turn your 'peace' calligraphy into an inkjet transparency and use that to get a great cyanotype effect on paper.

  10. A productive exercise indeed. These pieces lend themselves to books I feel.

  11. Lesley - your cyanotypes are brilliant and beautiful. I haven't gone so far as to purchase the chemicals yet...but temptation is there! Great idea boat calligraphied peace and cyanotyped flags. They would be a stunning blue against a big blue sky. Thanks!

    Thanks Jo - yes they are good pages for books I think as well. I just love a bit of experimenting and playing...


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