The Cyanotype Printing process

Cyanotype printing

For as long as I can remember, to me the color blue has been a fascinating and mesmerizing feast for the senses. Sky blue, azure, indigo you name it, it’s such a vivid and brilliant color, which is how I came upon the Cyanotype photogram(printing) process. 

Ever wondered why a blue print is called a blueprint?

Well that’s because it was originally blue. Cyan blue to be precise. Cyanotype printing is an early form of printing and copying that was used by engineers well into the 20thcentury as an affordable and accurate way to make multiple copies of drawings. Hence the term blue prints.

So how do we create Cyanotype prints?

Cyanotype printing uses a combination of 2 metal salts, that when mixed together becomes light sensitive. Then sun exposure to create photographic “blueprint” of objects. 

A technique founded by Sir John in 1842 and made popular by the first Woman photographer Anna Atkins.

Cyanotype printing sure has come a long way since the 1800s and in more modern times it is a popular medium used for creative expression. Artists are exploring their creativity by using different application techniques and varying objects. Beautiful art pieces can be created from real life objects such as foliage.

Which is my personal  favourite?  As I am always drawing inspiration from nature I was thrilled to find this alternative way of preserving its beauty. From foraging for leaves, flowers , twigs and basically anything the garden has to offer to waiting on the sun to work its magic.  I just love the whole process.

When I began writing this blog I have only explored the traditional cyanotype method but over time I have found myself wanting more!  More texture,  color, and more depth.  So I did a bit of research and discovered the amazing results achieved by introducing various “chemicals” found in the kitchen. Spices like turmeric and paprika, baking soda, vinegar, soap bubbles and cling film! 

The technique is called wet cyanotype and it gets more addictive the more you experiment with different chemicals and exposure time.