Cyanotypes on Delicate Surfaces

Discussion in 'Alternative Techniques & Photo Gallery' started by meridi, Sep 20, 2017.

  1. meridi

    meridi TPF Noob!

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    Hey y'all,

    I am working on a series of cyanotypes in which I manipulate my paper/fabric before exposing - I fold and gather parts together to create a textural effect and, in some cases, sharp lines that intersect each other and form geometric fields of blue and white. The results have proven to be promising so far, and are somewhat similar to Walead Beshty's photograms. My inspiration for this project is the meditative studies by Simon Hantai; my ultimate goal is to create rhythm through shape and balance while using a limited color palette.

    But on to my question: has anyone successfully made cyanotypes on mulberry paper (aka rice paper)? I did a test run this evening and while the paper held up surprisingly well to being, well, crumpled, by the time I had fully developed the print the paper began to disintegrate. I would very much like to continue using this paper because the creases that formed while folding tend to soften while submerged, and in water it behaves more like fabric than true paper.

    Was I simply not gentle enough? Or do I need to make some sort of contraption to prevent the paper from moving too much while developing? Any insight into using this fickle substrate will be greatly helpful, because so far my trials with watercolor paper and canvas haven't yielded such potentially polished results.

    Thanks!


     
  2. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Not sure I fully understand the process, but have you tried spraying the paper with something like Krylon Preserve it, or waterproofing it with an alumn solution before you do anything to the paper?
     
  3. meridi

    meridi TPF Noob!

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    @smoke665 I have considered that but I'm not sure how that may effect the solubility of the paper, it very well may end up causing the cyanotype solution to simply sit on top of the paper and not seep in - which sometimes works well with things like clayboard or masonite but with the paper still being flexible it may cause cracking in the cyanotype emulsion.
     
  4. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I don't know but you gave me a bunch of stuff to look up and read tomorrow. I haven't done cyanotypes much yet and have used pretreated purchased paper. I don't know the last time I might have used mulberry or rice paper for an art or craft project... but I think it's been a long time. Seems like that paper is soft and porous, wondering is there anything similar that is a little firmer? Like paper used for bookmaking/end papers maybe? Trying to think...

    edit - OK I thought. Shorten rinse time maybe?

    I did remember taking a class making a basket out of pulp we made ourselves. Took forever to dry because it was fairly thick. Is that paper available in different weights? Although if it's heavier I suppose it wouldn't fold properly.
     
  5. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Okay I had to read up on the process. It seems simple enough though. What I couldn't find was a definitive answer on how the chemicals react with the paper. From what I read it would appear that they aren't actually absorbed into the paper fiber. Otherwise how could you wash away the unexposed chemical?

    I think the alumn solution might be a better way to go. When exactly do you fold or crumple the paper? Could the chemical wash be applied after?
     
  6. meridi

    meridi TPF Noob!

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    @vintagesnaps I'll definitely look into something like bristol, I've had success with cyanotype-ing it before, and look into paper for books also, thanks! I definitely want to try shortening the rinse time but it was pretty minimal when I first tried the mulberry

    @smoke665 as far as I understand it, the chemical solution has a tendency to soak in, at least it did when I used it on wood and seashells. The reason that the unexposed parts rinse out is that the iron salt hasn't bonded to the substrate (I mean, if you cyanotype canvas and run it through a washing machine the blue parts will start to come out, so I guess it's the reaction of the UV light with the iron?) I'll try the alumn solution today before my class at 6:30 if we have some in the chem closet; if not I can always order some. The folding is before the exposing but after the application of the cyanotype; I can definitely try folding it before applying the chemical wash but I'm a little concerned there won't be as much control of what shapes form because the liquid sometimes will settle into creases (I had this issue with wrinkled canvas)
     
  7. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    @meridi again I've never done this before. I did however work for a silk screen printer in college that used a similar process. The silk was coated with an emulsion, a negative pattern laid on top, then exposed to a bright carbon arc light. Once exposed we used a water jet to rinse out the emulsion that had'nt been exposed.
     
  8. snowbear

    snowbear Big Furball Supporting Member

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    Welcome aboard. :p
     

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