On a recent weekend getaway, my friend Genny re-acquainted me with the beautiful art of cyanotype prints! You may recall making these prints as a child. I loved it then and have, once again, become obsessed with this easy summer craft.
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This fun craft is great for all ages and easily portable! Just perfect for camping trips, beach vacations, family reunions, and more.
How to Make Cyanotype Prints
There are two main methods you can use to make cyanotype prints. The first is by using pre-treated sheets of paper or fabric. Once you become comfortable with that, you may want to try applying cyanotype solution to other surfaces yourself. You can make cyanotype prints on a number of different surfaces including canvas, glass, wood, ceramic, metal, and other untreated fabrics like silk and cotton.
When applying cyanotype solution yourself, it’s recommended that you apply several thin coats. Let each coat dry before applying the next. Multiple (2-3) layers of solution will lead to the best color saturation.
Shop Cyanotype Supplies
The Cyanotype Process
Using either pre-treated sheets or a surface you apply cyanotype to yourself:
- Quickly place your design onto the paper/surface. Work quickly, as once the cyanotype paper is removed from its dark packet, it will start to develop quickly.
- Lay a thin sheet of glass (one from a photo frame works well) or non-UV-resistant acrylic over the design to hold everything in place.
- Set the surface in the sun for 5-15 minutes, ensuring no shadows fall on your print. Longer exposures create deeper blues. You may need to experiment with this a few times to find the optimal exposure.
- Remove your design from the surface.
- Rinse the cyanotype using cold water until the water runs clear or set in a cold water bath to develop. Note, this can take several minutes and you will see the blue tones begin to develop during this process.
Tips for Success with Cyanotype
- Keep your decorative objects as close to 2-dimensional as possible. You want the surface of your decoration to be making good contact with the paper. For example, daisies or Queen Anne’s lace will print better than a peony or hydrangea.
- Choose items that have interesting shapes or are semi-transparent. Often, items from nature are used (leaves and flowers). However, you can also use household items, stencils, low-stick cut-out alphabet letters, etc.
- Adding hydrogen peroxide to your rinse water will help intensify your printed image and add contrast. Either add it to your water bath or drizzle it over the print after you’ve been rinsing it for a few minutes.
There are so many fun things you can do once you get into cyanotype! A few possible ideas:
- create notecards by mounting your cyanotype to cardstock
- make unique and beautiful gift tags
- design a work of art on canvas
- print a scarf on untreated white silk
- create a cyanotype pillow
- make a printed tote bag
- use mural-sized sheets to make a unique portrait of your kids/grandkids
You can even make a custom cyanotype using one of your favorite photos! I’ll walk you through the process of how to convert your photo into a negative using Lightroom (a free app) in the video below. You’ll then need to print your negative on transparency film and then use it in the same manner as described above.
Have you ever made cyanotypes before? If so, was it as a child or as an adult? Hope you enjoyed this brief tutorial and will have some fun this summer creating beautiful designs!
Thanks so much for your likes, shares, and follows! Until next time,