The Magic of Making Cyanotypes

The Magic of Making Cyanotypes

When I first learned how to make cyanotypes, I had to scour the internet for instructions. I learned just enough to be dangerous…to my wallet that is! I was hooked immediately and couldn’t stop creating cyanotypes. My first cyanotypes were not great. In fact, they would be what I call a ghost print now, hardly noticeable. Fast forward 4 years, and now I’m creating interesting, unique cyanotypes because I learned the tips and tricks needed to create what I wanted. I like to tell people I learned all the rules and then broke them! Being the youngest child in my family means I’m supposed to break the rules, right? Lol

For those of you who don’t know what I cyanotype is, let me tell you. 

A cyanotype is a camera-less process of creating what could be called a blue print. The cyanotype method is an historic photographic process discovered in 1842 by John Herschel, resulting in simple white silhouettes on a blue background by using two photography chemicals and the sun to develop it. He originally used this method to print his notes. This is where the term blue print came from. Then a family friend, Anna Akin decided to create an entire book of botanicals made from using the cyanotype method. I love that a woman was able to see the possibilities of this really cool method! 

The magic for me comes from how long I expose the cyanotype. I prefer using the sunshine for exposure, especially in the summer because the heat creates moisture, which adds even more interest to the piece I’m exposing. Once I bring the piece in from the sun, it needs to be rinsed to stop the exposure. This is the REAL MAGIC! The water bath removes the chemicals that have turned brown, revealing the beautiful blue and white. For me, this basic blue and white cyanotype is beautiful. And yet, I love to push the traditional boundaries of making cyanotypes. I’ve developed my own style. I use different solutions to create a range of textures and colors. Sometimes, to uncover more depth and interest, I overexpose them, which draws out deep hues of greens and gold.

Want to learn more?

Send me a message and I’ll add you to my workshop information list.

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