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It all started in the first lockdown. We had to stay at home, the weather was beautiful, we were lucky to have a studio in the garden and we all had so much time- so it seemed an ideal time to learn to do cyanotypes.
I was immediately hooked! I have never done darkroom work but I imagine the excitement must be the same seeing the print emerge as the chemicals are washed off.
I started by buying a kit which gave me the chemicals, paper, instructions and all I needed to get started. The watercolour paper or fabric is coated with the chemicals and put out into the sun with either objects or a digital negative placed on top. At its most simple where it is exposed to UV light it turns blue, where covered it remains white. The process is really simple to learn, but can be refined by using different papers either wet or dry, adding turmeric, washing up liquid, paint, printing on fabric. There are lots of experiments to do and lots of failures. I enjoyed collecting leaves and flowers from my garden or on local walks to make my photograms.
I learnt about Anna Atkins who used the cyanotype process in the 1840s before the invention of the camera. Her beautiful cyanotype prints were used to illustrate botanical text books. She could be said to be the first woman photographer. I also bought some books, researched online and joined a Facebook group.
We live very near our local Pottery, where I have always sold a few cards. One day while there having a coffee, the owner showed me the alterations he had made to reduce the gift shop space and make more room for the Pottery. He suggested that the wall space could be used for exhibitions, and would I like to be the first exhibitor! So in April 2022 I had my first exhibition with a second this year. I exhibit cyanotypes which look best on the rough white wall and some digital photographs on the other walls.
I am still learning. I have done very little with digital negatives. I am experimenting with using paint with my cyanotypes, and with combining cyanotypes with digital photographs. I am happy to share what I have learnt so far with any SW members, and to learn from them too.
Ken shows some of his photographs, along with some thoughts and processes
Sue shares some of her photography thoughts and processes with us, along with a selection of her images.