Text: Sarah / Biutiful Creative Studio - Photos: Sarah / Biutiful Creative Studio
At Biutiful, we love to create. We like to imagine, we like to try, start again, again and again.
So I tried the cyanotype. Say like that, it's a little scary, but in real life it's quite easy and above all very cool to do to keep busy on a Sunday afternoon (or during confinement for example).
In fact, cyanotype is a photographic printing technique, done using sunlight, which produces a cyan blue print. It is a very old technique, it was developed in 1842 by the English scientist John Frederick William Herschel.
To get started, you need the sun (and you wonder how an Englishman could have discovered that) and the cyanotype set by Botanopia, in which we find:
- a detailed instruction manual with all the steps, tips and a video tutorial,
- 2 bottles containing the powdered cyanotype emulsion,
- a glass contact frame for the exhibition of the prints,
- 24 blank paper cards with different textures,
- a foam brush and a mixing stick,
- a measuring cup (30 ml) and a mixing cup,
- 2 examples of printing by Botanopia,
- disposable gloves,
In short, everything you need to get started with the cyanotype.
I experimented, I made tests (more failures than successes to be honest), with flowers, leaves, string, on different papers, on fabric and even with photographs. It is this last method that I liked the most. You must first choose a photograph with a high contrast, pass it in black and white then in negative (that is to say that one inverts the white and the black), before printing it on transparent paper. And it also works with texts.
After that, we prepare our solution. First add 100 ml of water to each vial, then shake. The solutions can be stored for several months, so they can be used for several prints. Then mix one dose from vial A with an equal dose from vial B (the measuring cup can help you with this step). It is the mixture of these two solutions that creates the sensitivity to UV, it must be used immediately and it is advisable to work these solutions indoors, out of direct sunlight.
Using the foam brush, the solution is spread in a thin layer on the sheet or fabric. You can play on the amount of solution or on the shape of the brush stroke, for different results. It is then the moment to be inventive, by arranging the elements above, according to the composition which one wishes. And if you lack creativity, there are plenty of great ideas on the Internet or social networks.
We place our creation behind the glass frame, as in a classic photo frame, using clothespins to hold everything together. And let's go for 10 to 15 minutes of exposure to the sun (it is better to overexpose rather than underexpose). You need a clear sky and direct sunlight for best results, but the exposure time can vary depending on the weather, the season, so it is important to test and adjust accordingly.
The paper will change colors many times from yellow-green to brown-gray.
When the exposure is over, it's time to rinse. In a little cold water, delicately soak the leaf, bringing it in and out of the water, until you see the yolk completely disappear. When your print is cyan blue, it's time to let it dry.
Once dry, I place the print for a few hours between the pages of a book to finish drying it and especially to flatten it. After 24 hours, it will have its deepest color.
That's it ! It is a rather simple and very original method of preparing cards, posters, tote bags and whatever else you want. The idea is to experiment, everything does not work, we sometimes have unpleasant surprises but also very good ones. There are 1000 different ways to do it, with different supports, different textures, the whole thing is to try and, frankly, it really feels good to spend time creating.
So bring yourself the superb Botanopia cyanotype set and let your imagination run wild!