AT A GLANCE
1. Prepare the cyanotype solution using the easy-to-use Cyanotype Sensitizer Kit from Jacquard Products following instructions.
2. Sensitize the paper with the cyanotype solution in subdued lighting and wait until the paper is bone dry. (Dry it in a dark place.)
2. Put object on top of paper and expose to sunlight (approx. 20 min in blazing summer sun or 30-40min. if sun is in and out of clouds. More time is better than less.)
3. Wash the paper in regular tap water at least 5 minutes. Change the water regularly until it runs clear.
4. Let it dry and in 24 hours it will turn deep Prussian blue.
Theoretically any kind of paper can be sensitized with the cyanotype solution. But not every paper can survive being submerged in water for an extended time. The best papers are watercolour paper and printmaking paper. We also tried the canva-paper from Canson that artists use as oil painting surface and it produced great effect with its linen-textured surface. But it took a lot of time to wash out the chemistry after exposure.
Note: You can purchase pre-coated paper from the US online - B&H Photo in New York. https://goo.gl/6o1xSt
The paper can be purchased in 10, 24 or 100 sheets packages in various sizes. The product is duty-free because it is NAFTA-qualified. But beware that B&H only ships with Fedex and even free shipping is not free. You will only know this when two months after you received your package Fedex will send you directly a separate invoice that might cause you heart attack. The handling fee will likely amount for the whole value of your original purchase.
COATING THE PAPER
Once you prepared Part A and Part B of the Cyanotype Sensitizer Kit, you can use it anytime later but don't mix them until you are ready to coat your paper. The mixed solution lasts only about 2-3 hours. To coat, combine an equal amount of Part A and Part B in a plastic bowl. (It must be plastic. The chemistry reacts to metal.) Use a foam brush (no metal handle) to coat the paper using horizontal brushstrokes then vertical brushstrokes to make sure you coat the whole paper. Do this in subdued lighting. (E.g. if it is daytime, pull the curtains.)
Let the paper air dry, it must be bone dry, in a dark place. E.g. place it under a table and hang black garbage bags around the table. Once the paper dried, package it in aluminum foil until you are ready to expose it. Aluminum foil blocks light out.
EXPOSING THE PAPER
DEVELOPING THE IMAGE (WASHING THE PAPER)
DRYING AND OXIDIZING THE PAPER
DISPLAYING AND STORING CYANOTYPES
Cyanotypes are very stable. Just think of how brilliant Anna Atkins' work she made in 1843 are still today. However, they need some primary care. If you display them on your wall, avoid direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will fade it. But cyanotypes have unique characteristics. If they fade because of sun exposure, just put them into a dark place, like into a drawer, for several days, and they will regain their original glory.
If you store them, put them between newsprints or newspaper, not acid-free papers that are usually used to store artworks. Due to the chemistry used in the process, cyanotypes prefer an acidic environment and newsprints are perfect for that.
The cyanotype process is a non-toxic and failsafe process; that's why they use it extensively in schools and summer camps, where children coat their own paper and learn the complete process.
There are only two things that come to mind that we should mention here.
If you don't expose your image long enough in the sun, it will be underexposed. The image will disappear as you wash the paper. It is impossible to overexpose cyanotype, so leave it out in the sun for long.
When you look at your coated paper once it dried, you may find that it is not evenly coated. Eventually, you will get better at it. But we suggest to learn to like it, work with it and incorporate it into your composition. Molly and I loved best the paper that we coated, and some turned out with irregularities. We enjoyed the challenge to think of how we can meaningfully incorporate the unevenness and inconsistencies of our paper.
We had a wonderful, almost three-hour field trip to the Meadowlily Nature Reserve on Sunday led by Dr. Daria Koscinski, Conservation Property Manager at Thames Talbot Land Trust and Dr. Gordon Neish. Gordon brought a list of plants that should look for and likely encounter in Meadowlily. This list was incredibly helpful as well as the knowledge of the many botanists who joined the walk. We collected plants that we will press in the next several days and will be ready to be the subject of cyanotypes when we open Wednesday again at 12 pm at Satellite Project Space.
Molly Miksa (left) and Gabriella Solti with their first cyanotype mural
We have two 5' x 7' cyanotype murals on canvas at Satellite Project Space exhibited currently. We made them a couple of days before we started our project to illustrate the cyanotype process. Many of our visitors at the opening thought that we enlarged an existing image on a huge transparency film and then we made the contact print. But our mural is a real contact print when we directly placed a huge wild carrot on the light-sensitive surface of the canvas. Here's our process through pictures with description.
Instead of a thunderstorm, we had beautiful weather Friday evening when we gathered for an hourlong nature walk in the Coves led by Becky Ellis.
This video is a 15-minute compilation of the walk recorded and edited by Eeva Siivonen, Gallery Coordinator of Satellite Project Space.
Becky’s depth of knowledge and love of bees shine through.
You can download here the very informative presentations of Dr. Sheila Macfie and Dr. Gordon Neish on how to identify plants and what resources you can use. We thank the presenters and everyone who braved the weather yesterday and came to the opening reception and presentation.
The book Gordon recommended for discovering natural areas around London:
Guide to the Natural Areas of London and Region. 5th Edition 2015. Edited by Roslyn Moorhead and James Moorhead. Published by Nature London, London Ontario. 202 pp. $15.00
Last Thursday I got a generous offer from Dr. Sheila Macfie: to meet nearby the Visual Arts Building at Western University and practice using the Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. The book has a simplified key system that lay people like myself can learn and use. When I was a child, I had a similar book in Hungary with a simplified key system.
Because it's a simplified key system, it prompts careful observation, to look at the various parts of the plant again and again. It is possible that we have to make several tries and look again at the flower/plant and discover more details that change our decision of what key to use.
We did not go far from the building. It was amazing to see how many wildflowers grow on the side of the parking lot. We sat down on the grass and looked around and spent an hour identifying the many plants that grow in a small patch of land. (See the picture on the left.)
On Thursday, August 16th at 6 PM Sheila and Dr. Gordon Neish will give a public presentation on plant identification at Satellite Project Space (121 Dundas St). It's a free program, and we hope to see many Londoners there.
Sustainable Indigenous Food Garden, Photo by Siobhan Bonisteel
Join us Thursday, August 23rd at 6PM in the gallery for a presentation by Dr Andrew Judge, an Irish-Anishinaabe scholar, who will discuss two-eyed seeing, the practice of blended Indigenous and European approaches to "re-search" and ways of knowing. Recovery from colonization requires new paradigms that allow space for the inclusion of Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Learning ways to actualize two-eyed seeing supports the resurgence of Indigenous knowledges.
MkoMosé (Andrew Judge) is an Irish-Anishinaabe scholar and currently holds a PhD in Indigenous education from Western University. Andrew is also the co-founder of The Indigenous Collective. Andrew’s research interests include Indigenous cultural knowledge, traditional ecological knowledge, decolonization, Indigenous resurgence, Mayan and Anishinaabe cosmology, blended Indigenous and Western methodologies, and the ways colonialism impacts Indigenous peoples. Andrew constantly seeks to apply his Indigenous knowledge, especially as it relates to environmental sustainability and the ways we interact with the earth. Andrew continues to be guided by the wisdom of his Elders and lives with gratitude for the Ancestral teachings he has been entrusted.
Current projects: http://raresites.org/2018/06/sustainable-indigenous-foods-garden/
Photo by Gabriella Solti
Join us Sunday, August 19th at 2:30PM for a field trip to the Meadowlily Nature Preserve led by Dr. Daria Koscinski, Conservation Property Manager at Thames Talbot Land Trust and Dr. Gordon Neish.
With special permission, we will also collect a small number of plant specimens that we will press on location using a plant press generously lent to us by the Biology Department at Western University.
We meet at 2:30PM at the Meadowlily Trailhead, 1139 Hamilton Rd, London.
Photo by Gabriella Solti
Join us Friday, August 17th at 7PM for a nature walk led by Becky Ellis at the Coves, a designated Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) in the heart of London. Learn about native plants and the diverse ecosystem of the Coves.
We meet at 7PM at the Canadian German Club's parking lot, 1 Cove Rd, London
Becky Ellis is a Ph.D. student in the Geography department at Western University. Her Ph.D. research focuses on the human-bee relationship in urban spaces with a particular interest in public pollinator gardens and bee-yards in public spaces. She is the chair of the London Urban Beekeepers Collective and the Urban Agriculture Strategy Steering Committee. She writes a blog - Permaculture for the People.