Versatile blue

A brief look at my most recent technical tests for cyanotype print production.

I had a fairly busy and productive day yesterday. I had several tests that I wanted to do to help me refine the timings of each step of the process.

During the last few months I’ve been working on my commission Wearexperimenting for the Cultural Spring and North East Photography Network.

I’m using the varied and amazing artworks that I have helped people to create during this participatory project. The brief was Dark Skies/Blue Skies and the commissioners wanted a response to that title that combined photography, science and participation.

Together we created a vast volume of brilliant and unusual images using analogue and digital photography. I’m just finishing the last few workshops, and I’ve started to consider presentation ideas.

I’ve been turning the paper negatives and instant film photographs into digital acetate negatives, and using toadflax to run across the prints. The image above is one of the pinhole photographs taken at our Fresher’s Week pop up behind Murray Library.

After deciding to expose the image only 20 minutes after applying the cyanotype emulsion, so it is barely dry, opting for the darker shade of blue. I exposed the tiles under uv lamps for 50 minutes, and washed for 30 min.

I dried the pieces for 30 minutes before applying clear varnish to the surface to stop the reaction. I think, in hindsight, that I will allow the tiles to dry for more time before adding the varnish, as I think this will ensure a lovely rich Prussian blue.

The tile above was created using a screenshot of the Live Feed on WearExperimenting’s website. Digitising the analogue work and then unifying it all in one process.

I’ll use the tiles as free standing pieces, as well as for the creation of a wall based piece made from multiple tiles.

The tile above is the result of digitising an instax wide photograph that we took of the workshop. I need to be able to create many of these tiles in one sitting so I can have uniformity from print to print.

I’m such a nerd! This is super exciting stuff for me.

The exhibition will be in November in Mackies Corner in Sunderland. So, there is plenty of stuff for me to be cracking on with!

I’m still collecting images and submissions to the project. Please join the photographic challenges, as you may end up being in the show! Follow instructions on the website. I can’t wait to see what everyone contributes!

And, in other news I did an interim test print of my lino cut. Still lots to do on it, but I couldn’t resist!

Jo Howell

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