Today I used a photocopier and slide (acetate) transparencies to make negatives for a photographic print process called cyanotype. You may have seen cyanotype used for botanical prints (a 19th century pioneer of the method was Anna Atkins, who made books of algae prints). [For botanical prints no negatives are needed – instead the plants are placed directly on the paper].
The first picture shows a negative that I made today, using one of my drawings and a piece of my writing; the second shows some blocks that I made a couple of years ago – by folding papers that had been printed using this process.
To make the prints, you mix up a UV sensitive ‘paint’, and paint it onto paper indoors in a room that is not too bright, and then expose the paper (through the negative) to UV light – which I hope to be able to do by the simple method taking it outdoors and putting it under the sky, perhaps weighted at the corners (hopefully we have enough UV in the middle part of the day, by April). Once exposed, the print is rinsed – the paint exposed to UV remains on the paper and darkens, the rest washes off. I have almost no expertise in this process – only a good instinct for it – so I’ll need to experiment and be flexible. Very fun.
The colour of the prints is a very strong blue (this is the ‘cyan’ in cyanotype) – but I was taught a method of bathing completed images in a tanin-rich liquid such as tea or wine, which alters the tones closer to browns, which I will follow.