This week: how to make cyanotype prints using the sun (and a little science)
Natasha from our Design team shares her passion for art and nature with a project to help brighten up your work-from-home space.
To spend more time creating and less time fussing with chemicals, Natasha recommends using a kit. She likes to use the Jacquard’s Cyanotype Set, painting the liquid on watercolor paper with a natural edge. To make starting even easier, you can purchase a the SunPrint Paper Kit that features pretreated paper. These kits can be found in craft stores or at major online retailers.
Cyanotype is a 20th-century printing process that uses light and a mixture of ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide to create a cyan-blue print — a fancy way of saying making a blueprint.
NOW FOR THE FUN PART: THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Once your kit arrives, collect a few things from nature and press them flat to use for your project.
In a dark room, mix the two solutions together and paint a light coat onto the paper to treat it. Watercolor paper is best, because it doesn’t buckle when wet.
Let the paper dry overnight in a dark room.
After it’s dry, store the paper in a box that will not let in any light. Keep the box closed until you’re ready to work.
When setting up your work area, put down a piece of cardboard. Quickly remove the reactive paper from the box. Arrange dried, pressed flowers or other flat objects on the paper and cover with a piece of glass to hold everything in place. (The key to creating a crisper print is to touch it as little as possible.)
Let it sit in the sun for a few minutes. The timing will depend on the amount of sunshine on the day of printing. The areas exposed to the light will slightly change color, becoming duller and developing a greenish tint.
Rinse your print in a bucket of water mixed with 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide. The peroxide is not necessary, but it gives the print a rich blue color.
Let your print dry on a rack or clothes line. Make sure you promptly clean up any puddles.
Imperfections are what make these prints beautiful and unexpected. Sun printing is a great way to get out of your artistic comfort zone and have fun. Go with the flow and experiment; the prints turn out so much better when you don’t have a plan.
How are you staying creative and happy at home? We’d love to read your ideas and see your photos on social media. Share them with us using #GarnetHillFamily and #HappyAtHome on Instagram.