Tag Archives: cyanotype

Blue Wash

30 Aug

develop 1

Today I developed yesterday’s cyanotypes in the garden shed. Husb has been making the shed, from scratch, for about 3 years now and it’s nearly finished. He’s plumbed in an old Belfast sink which is big and deep enough to easily develop the pictures. I soaked them for 5 minutes under running water, then 20 minutes in a tray of still water with a spot of vinegar in it – apparently it increases the contrast.

 

More tomorrow……

Blue On A Grey Day

29 Aug

exposure 4

Out in the field

A scientist, an artist and a designer walk into a Country Park …… no it’s not a joke, it’s the second cyanotype field trip this week with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab, up to the River Tawe as it runs through Craig-y-Nos. What can I say? It’s a glorious place and I feel so privileged to go out and be an artist in places like this. There’s a castle here as well, built for Dame Adelina Patti, the magnificent opera singer.

 

 

Grey Day

Unlike Monday’s field trip in blazing sunshine, today was rainy, cloudy and grey. We waited for it to dry up a bit and exposed the cyanotypes on the bank of the Tawe en plein air. On Monday I allowed 10 minutes exposure, which worked really well (see here) but today I had to guesstimate and allowed 20 minutes. I’ll develop them tomorrow and we’ll see if I guessed right. We created images of things we found around us, being careful not to damage anything and to put things back.

 

 

Queen Anne’s Lace And A Mixed Bouquet

28 Aug

mixed bouquet

An Important River

Here are a couple more cyanotype prints from my field trip on Monday with my colleague Steph from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab. We walked the River Tawe path from Swansea up to Pontardawe, 15 kilometres. Swansea’s name in Welsh is Abertawe which means Mouth of the River Tawe, and Pontardawe means Bridge over the Tawe, and it’s an important river in these parts.

 

Queen Anne’s Lace

We took a print from a clump of gorgeous Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus Carota) and then a mixed bouquet of wild flowers. We used a ten-minute exposure time en plein air at around 1pm on a very sunny August day and then developed the prints in cold running water. The root of Queen Anne’s Lace smells of carrot and has a very high sugar content, second only to beetroot.

 

The FIRE Lab

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Lab at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe. This cyanotype experiment is our latest field trip.

 

 

 

Teasels And Rubbish

27 Aug

Teazles

 

Day Of Reckoning!

Yesterday was cyanotype exposure day, today was cyanotype developing day – and the day of reckoning! So much can go wrong. Cyanotype was the earliest form of photography, invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842 to copy his notes. Anna Atkins used it to record botanical specimens and produced the first photographic book in 1843 using cyanotype. It was quickly superseded by other more reliable forms of photography but was still used to produce blueprints for engineers. Nowadays it’s very popular in fine art printmaking and alternative photography.

 

En Plein Air

Here are a couple of the ones I developed today alongside photos of them being done en plein air. The first is a Teasel, an ancient plant that used to be used in woollen textile manufacture and their seeds are a favourite food of the European Goldfinch. The second is some rubbish we picked up on our walk.

The FIRE Lab

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Lab at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe. This cyanotype experiment is our latest field trip.

 

 

 

Boiling Hot And Blue Prints

26 Aug

 

cyan 3

I went on a field trip alongside the River Tawe today, from Sainsburys in Swansea to Tescos in Pontardawe, about 15 kilometres. It was BOILING hot. My colleague Steph and I did some experimental cyanotype (blue prints) exposures on the way, working with plants at the side of the path, rubbish we picked up and even shadows on the tarmac. I’ll develop these in cold water tomorrow to see what we have. Fingers crossed.

 

 

ps we didn’t pick the plants, but gently bent them and they sprang back afterwards. We disposed of the rubbish responsibly.

 

Ethereal Sunshine Print

25 Aug

 

plants 1

Walking The Tawe Path

I’m going on a FIRE Lab field trip with a colleague tomorrow to walk the River Tawe Path, making cyanotypes along the way. It looks like the weather will be great for exposing these in the sunshine. I spent most of today preparing and I wanted to do a trial run as I haven’t done any for a while. I found some ready-prepared paper tucked away in a folder and grabbed some bits of plants from my garden. I perched the paper on my garden bench and put a sheet of glass over it and let the sun bathe it in light for 10 minutes – it was about 1pm so the light was very strong.

 

plants 2

Vintage Paper

The plants were quite fleshy and the glass couldn’t squash them flat and they threw slight shadows onto the treated paper, so I guessed the end image wouldn’t be the sharpest. The paper is a sheet of vintage I was given a while back, quite old and no watermark so I had no idea if it was even printmaking paper. It’s very thick and absorbent, almost like cloth. I took a photo (above) after 10 minutes exposure, before I put it in the sink to develop it.

 

plants 3

Soft And Shadowy

Cyanotype is developed in cold water, first in running water and then a good soak in water with a dash of vinegar added. I like the way this one has turned out – the combination of the soft creamy paper and the shadowy images gives it an ethereal quality.

Preparing For A Blue Day

21 Aug

I’m preparing for a cyanotype field trip over the bank holiday. The idea is to take out prepared cyanotype papers into the landscape and make photograms from what we find. Here are some I did a while back …

 

developing

 

Man Engine

12 Apr

manengine

Back last week I was rummaging through the drawers in my plans chest and pulled out some used paper that I thought could be reused and today I got my chance. Swansea hosted Man Engine , the largest mechanical puppet ever constructed in Britain, which has been journeying up from Cornwall. It’s amazing. I was invited to take part in a live drawing event (with afternoon tea) at Galerie Simpson on Swansea’s High Street to coincide with the behemoth’s progress through the city. It’s very slow moving so I managed to sketch the giant head outside the gallery on the pavement as it rumbled by. I drew with black, white and sanguine conté crayon and some of my home-made sepia walnut ink onto a recycled cyanotype print on Bockingford paper. If you want to know how to make walnut ink, please check out my blog post here.

Recycle, Reuse

1 Apr

cyanotype

I have some very big drawers for storing art and materials and I was rummaging through them earlier and found a load of papers that had been shoved to the back because I wasn’t happy with the work I’d done on them. So I pulled them out to have a think about how I can reuse them. This was a cyanotype experiment that hadn’t worked out and I already tried to recycle it by doing a life drawing on top, but I didn’t like that either. So now I’m going to try again – third time lucky? I don’t know what I’ll do yet, maybe I’ll have a digital play with it before deciding. It’s looming out at me quite darkly ………..

A Bit Stiff

20 Mar

Carreg Llafar

Husb and I paid a rare visit to a pub yesterday evening to see a live band, Carreg Llafar,  who play contemporary folk in the Welsh language. Being a rock chick, I’m not a big fan of folk music but I make an exception for Carreg Llafar who bring authenticity and atmosphere to traditional music. And it’s also a rare chance to hear a pibgorn, an archaic horn pipe. And to hear singing in Welsh.

cover

I drew onto a sheet of recycled cyanotype in my leather steampunk sketchbook. I used up all the paper a few months ago so I replaced it with leftover pieces from print and drawing projects. I used two Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens, size F and B and also a white Derwent pencil to scribble highlights onto the deeper blue. I find it very hard to sketch musicians because they move about, their instruments are unfamiliar to me, they hold their hands at odd angles. Factor in that there’s a stage full of them and they have to be drawn in proportion to each other and that’s a very difficult piece of drawing to do. It took a lot of effort but even so, or maybe because of it, the end result is quite stiff. Never mind, it’s good practice.

Check out Carreg Llafar’s lovely music on YouTube below.

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