Check out the Books we created:
We created cyanotype books this summer in a short workshop at Foothill College.
The idea was to create a book, shaped like a house (“Domestic Tendencies”). The photo-artist was to tell a story about their home through objects.
Cyanotype House-Book Process: (a short description of what we did, but not in great detail … )
- Decide on a story about your home (mine had to do with the story of 3 kids who broke into my house the day that I was born and what they stole! A canned ham, hostess cupcakes, my dad’s favorite hawthorne shirt from his honeymoon, my mom’s turtleneck, a quilt, coors light … then they had a picnic and jumped on a train – no lie!)
- Scan objects to tell the story on a flatbed scanner in grayscale mode- use selection tool and make the background plain black. You can then make the canvas size 8×10 or drag the selection over onto a black background. Invert the entire file so the background becomes white and the object is a negative (reverse).
- Have transparenices printed from these PDF/JPEG files or B&W print outs at Kinkos (low-tech negatives) .75 cents to $1.75 for B&W transparencies
- Mix cyanotype chemistry Solution A with Solution B in equal parts in a darker room with no UV light (I use my bathroom & wear gloves, even turn on the fan!). Coat cyanotype papers using a foam brush (Arches -hot press watercolor paper OR printed on 100% cotton fabric, washed first) in the darkroom or bathroom with no UV light. Allow to dry thoroughly.
- Made sun-contact prints with the negatives onto the book pages (after a few exposure tests or test strips)
- Rinse the papers & added peroxide at the end to make them really blue
- Dry the papers (can use a hair dryer but may cause chemistry to run) and created the book (w/ many different interpretations in terms of the printing, book-binding, shape etc…)
What we learned:
- Overexposure IS possible with cyanotypes, especially in BRIGHT sun! Our exposures were 5-10 minutes in length.
- When the coated cyanotype papers are not dry completely!, they will make funky prints (can be a cool look)
- There is some paper with sizing issues (shrinkage of page size & may be too small for your negative after sizing) once paper is coated and dried. We washed the 100% cotton fabric first before printing on that.
- You can do this at home to by ordering the chemistry from:
Photographer’s Formulary – Cyanotype Kit
- Creative “Mistakes/Mishaps” are the best things to happen to your cyanotypes!
- You can coat the paper, do a print, and then re-coat again to do another print.
- Brush-strokes can look great!
- A creative way of binding your book can be interesting in adding to the content!
- As a photographer you must give up some of your “control” to get “experimental” and amazing results!