beautiful blue

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beautiful blue

It is always so lovely to discover a new material and play with it. This time a friend, who is also an artist, introduced me to the world of cyanotype. She had recently begun using this technique and made some beautiful textile pieces with it.

Cyanotype is an early form of photography. A piece of paper is covered with a chemical and, when dry, an object is placed on top of this paper, which is then exposed to sunlight. As by magic the paper turns into a lovely blue colour, except where the object sits. The light cannot get to this area, so the shape of the object maintains the colour of the original paper. The paper is then rinsed to remove the chemicals and left to dry. Other than the use on paper, cyanotype can be applied to any other natural materials.

It seemed like fun to try this technique for myself and I bought some of the chemicals needed. I began by using it the traditional way and made these samples with paper.

But as I always want to do things differently and experiment, I thought I could try to see what would happen if I applied it to my polyester lithography material.

So I cut some lengths of it and painted them with the magic solution. This needs to be done in a fairly dark place as the chemical will start to react to light immediately and turn blue. The final shade of blue depends on the exposure time.

Because of the smooth surface of the lithography material, the solution made lovely patterns, just like water colour paint would. But unlike water colours, which can be washed off, the cyanotype blue is permanent. This means that perhaps I can incorporate the blue surfaces in my collithos, so new possibilities await!

When buying the cyanotype chemicals, I noticed it was also possible to make brown surfaces with a different chemical. I tried that, too, on the lithography material, but I don’t find the colour as nice as the blue. The resulting patterns are lovely, though!

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