How To Make a Cyanotype

Cyanotype photography has been around since the mid 1800s. It is a process that allows you to create photographs at home without the use of many harsh chemicals or a lot of equipment. The end result is a beautiful blue photo that has a white image burned into it where you set the negative or object you wish to be imprinted.

Here are two ways on how to do a cyanotype at home. The super easy way is to purchase cyanotype paper from a photography store to use. This process involves the cyanotype paper, a negative or object such as a leaf or frond and direct sunlight.

Begin by having all your supplies ready. 35mm negatives are too small to use effectively but you can make your own negatives by using a transparency and your home computers printer. Create the picture that you want in your art program. Convert the image from appositive one to a negative one (so it prints on the printer backwards) and print. If you are using an object such as a leaves or shells arrange them on the paper as you see fit. Once you have placed your negative or arrangement on the paper expose the project to direct sunlight. On average it will need to sit in the sunlight for at least 15 minutes. Once this is done bathe the cyanotype in cool water for a minute or two and let it completely dry. You will then have your own homemade cyanotype.

For the more adventurous you can make your own cyanotype paper. You will need watercolor paper, ferric ammonium citrate, potassium ferricyanide, 2 sunlight safe mixing bottles a mixing bowl and tray and a paint brush. Begin by mixing the ammonium citrate 1 to 10 parts with water 10ml to 100ml water in one bottle. Mix the same parts of the other chemical in the other bottle. (You can also buy premixed chemicals at the photography store.) When you are ready mix equal parts of the chemicals in the wash tray and place the water color paper in the tray to coat. Use paint brush to make sure it is evenly coated and then remove and let dry completely. Once it is dry, you proceed with the exposure just like if you bought pre-made paper. When you wash off the negative, use a shot of hydrogen peroxide in the final bath with the water to set the print completely into the paper.


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