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"Feeling Blue": Cyanotype Prints in The Classroom

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Dennis Memmott

on 19 October 2012

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Transcript of "Feeling Blue": Cyanotype Prints in The Classroom

Feeling Blue Cyanotype printing in the classroom The Rebirth Chemicals Needed Coating the surface The Process The cyanotype process, also known as the blueprint process, was first introduced by John Herschel (1792 – 1871) in 1842. Sir John was an astronomer, trying to find a way of copying his notes.

Herschel managed to fix pictures using hyposulphite of soda as early as 1839. In the early days the paper was coated with iron salts and then used in contact printing. The paper was then washed in water and resulted in a white image on a deep blue background. (Apart from the cyanotype process, Herschel also gave us the words photography, negative, positive and snapshot.) One of the first people to put the cyanotype process to use was Anna Atkins (1799-1871), who in October 1843 became the first person to produce and photographically illustrated a book using cyanotypes. She is also recorded as the first female photographer. The cyanotype to the right is from a book of ferns published in 1843 by Atkins.
She was a pioneering figure in photographic history, having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. She was a botanist and her father a friend of Fox Talbot. Atkins book uses 424 cyanotypes (or as they were known then: "shadowgraphs"). The book was called "British Algae: Cyanotype impressions". It was printed privately and issued in several parts over ten years.
Her book therefore precedes Fox Talbot’s own "Pencil of Nature" in 1844. The photography world is changing rapidly and it’s uncertain if we’ll even have ordinary film cameras in the future. Artists have found a perfect compliment to today’s advances in digital technology. The cyano- type process puts the development back into the hands of the photographer.
The cyanotype is often the first alternative process that people try. It’s relatively easy and safe enough to nurture a child’s interest in photography. It can be seen as a gateway to further exploration of historic photographic methods. The cyanotype process is simple. It can be done easily in a few steps:
Mixing chemicals: This recipe makes approximately 50 8x10 inch prints.
The cyanotype is made up of two simple solutions: Resources History Anna Atkins Solution B:
10 grams Potassium ferricyanide and
100 ml. water. Solution A:
25 grams Ferric ammonium citrate (green) and
100 ml. water. Lets Try it! http://www.alternativephotography.com

Blueprint to cyanotypes:
Exploring a historical alternative photographic process. By. Malin Fabbri and Gary Fabbri

Photographer's Formulary

Preparing the canvas, paper, card, textiles or any other naturally absorbent material is simple.
Drag coating

Brushing being the easiest! Objects or negatives are placed on the material to make a print. The cyanotype is printed using UV light, such as the sun, a light box or a UV lamp.

Processing and drying
• After exposure the material is processed by simply rinsing it in water.
A white print emerges on a blue background.• The final print is dried and admired. Printing The Cyanotype
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