Cyanotypes

We had a workshop on how to do cyanotypes, another alternative photography process. This is a really simple method.

The cyanotype is made up of two simple solutions; Solution A: 25 grams Ferric ammonium citrate (green) and 100 ml. water and Solution B: 10 grams Potassium ferricyanide and 100 ml. water. These are mixed together to form the cyanotype. Once you have the cyanotype, you then need to cover the materials you want to print on to (this is done in the darkroom); these can include paper, card, textiles or any natural material can be used to print on. You cover your material evenly with the cyanotype using a brush, then this must be left to dry, or use a hairdryer to speed up the process. You are now able to print, placing your chosen objects or a negative onto your covered material, place the material and objects in the right position under either a UV light or in the sunlight, then simply leave them to develop.

When developing under UV light usually you leave it for around 20 minutes, whereas in the sun (depending on brightness) it usually takes around an hour or more. Once the cyanotype has been exposed long enough, process your print by rinsing it in cold water. The wash also removes any unexposed chemicals. Wash for at least 5 minutes, until all chemicals are removed and the water runs clear. Oxidation is also hastened this way – bringing out the blue colour. The final print can now be hung to dry and be admired.

I managed to do two cyanotypes on my first attempt; the first did not come out as well, as I used glass objects; the print is not very clear, I think that I would need to expose my paper more to make the glass items more obvious. However on my second one, using solid objects, the cyanotype worked well and showed the shapes and lines of the objects well.

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I feel that using cyanotypes could be an interesting and usual way to show objects, making them less obvious as to what they are, this will make the viewer spend time looking at my work, contemplating the subject and meaning. Furthermore I feel that the fact that all the images come out blue, due to the nature of the chemicals, makes the work a bit more usual, and could be linked well with themes around water, sadness and other areas where blue is thought of as related to the themes, this would then emphasise the meaning behind the photographs by having one key colour.

Liz NicolRubber band project. She uses cyanotypes to show her collection of rubber bands, these were 1000 bands collected when walking her child to school every day. She repeated the journey that she took to her child’s school daily and the photographs show her findings, and represent her journey. These photographs link to the idea of human presence, as she is showing her journey that she took but in a different way without having to show her presence, instead she uses the rubber bands to represent each different journey.

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The use of cyanotypes in this work works well, as it shows the objects in enough detail but, due to the nature of the cyanotype and the objects, it is not so obvious as to what it is of, making the image more mysterious. It is very abstract and like a piece of art, there is no particular pattern to the arrangement of the rubber bands, possibly linking to the idea that on some days she found rubber bands whereas on others she didn’t, it was a random and uncertain process of collection.

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