Traditional and digital art


Click the picture to see a larger version.
Click the picture to see a larger version.

Today I printed my first Cyanotypes on watercolor paper. The Cyanotype process was discovered in 1842 by Sir John Herschel the English scientist, astronomer and botanist. I started researching the process about a week ago. Iron salts turn a rich, dark blue when exposed to ultraviolet light. Water is used to develop the print. The process appealed to me because it was something I could easily do in the bathroom sink that was non-toxic and archival. I ordered a kit of chemicals and a UV lamp.

Photographic prints can be made by contact printing negatives. Digital negatives can be made using an inkjet printer and printing to transparency film. I experimented and discovered that I could edit images on my iPad and print a negative wirelessly to my printer onto film.

I brought in three items from my darkroom – an 8×10 tray, a contact printing frame and an electronic enlarger timer. The chemicals come in two parts that are mixed together in equal amounts to produce a liquid sensitizer. I coated the paper with a brush and waited for it to dry. I contact printed the negatives for three minutes using the enlarger timer to turn the UV lamp on and off. I then washed the print in a 8×10 tray in the bathroom sink in normal room light. I still get a thrill watching the image come up in the developing tray. Wash time is about 10 minutes.

Now that I know how to do the basic process, I want to branch out and try some variations. Prints can be toned with tannic acid to produce a brown or black tone instead of blue. Prints can also be hand colored with watercolor or colored pencil. Cyanotypes can also be combined with other printing techniques. There are lots of things to try.

Strathmore Mixed Media paper, OHP Film Overhead Projector Film 8.5×11 inch for inkjet printer, Jacquard Cyanotype Set, Lightstarter 60 watt 100 LED UV flood light.