Sunshine plus homemade cyanotype paper equals a recipe for a good experiment. When the sun shone this weekend, I was ready for it. I had my water colour paper painted with cyanotype chemical mix and had been looking forward to the day when I could eventually experiment with sun printing. This Prussian blue and white dream had finally emerged from a short online course done during the darkness of winter.
So I foraged about the garden picking out pretty weeds, leaves and flowers to create patterns. To be honest, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with them or how well things would turn out. I selected my paper, carefully arranged the leaves and clamped the glass on top. Then I left the collages out in the sun, taking note of the timings. The paper started to change colour almost instantly to a blue green. However, I read I should leave it until the paper took on a more bronzed hue.
When the colour looked about right, it was time to take off the glass and leaves and wash the paper. The colours initially faded, but then transformed into a beautiful deep blue. I was transfixed. My little experiment had worked. I’d made a print!
Now that I could see what leaves worked better, different plants came into focus. I’d try lupin, black currant and raspberry leaves, as well as daisies and forget-me-nots. The prints started to take on better compositions, and I even got a little cocky – why not try soap suds and cling film for more texture? I’d been inspired by watching YouTube videos from professional photographer Stephen Mcnally.
I found the whole process of selecting plants, making compositions, experimenting with layers and liquids completely absorbing. What would happen if I added this? Or changed that? The icing on the cake was to have a set of beautiful blue prints, made completely from scratch by me. I’m already thinking ahead to my next cyanotype experiment, and the cotton material is already on order!