July 10, 2018

Experiments in wet cyanotype - part 25

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 Welcome to part 25 of my experiments in wet process cyanotype printing on fabric. You can view all the previous parts in reverse chronological order by clicking Wet Cyanotype in the top header, or go here.
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I had skipped a week or so of wet cyan printing because the weather was so extreme, with temperatures in the high 90s F, and humidity pushing the heat index well into 110+ range. At that point it's too hot for me to be puttering about in the sun, and printing doesn't work all that well either. Everything cooks too fast and the prints lack the qualities I strive for.

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 The weather finally broke and we had a few genuinely pleasant days, with 70's and 50% humidity, which passes for dry in a Pennsylvania summer. I put out a set of prints using Virginia creeper, calla lily leaves, and plume poppy leaves. For all of those I used my informal standard of a spritz of heavily diluted red textile paint, some sprays of diluted washing soda water, and then plain water to top it off before covering with glass and setting in the sun to expose.
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 I also did a print using poke leaves. Poke has a lot of sap, and I was curious to see if it could get a partial eco-print, so I just used plain water for that one.
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 I admire the poke plant, even as I struggle to contain/remove it from my gardens, probably I spent a lot of time as a kid making "ink" from the berries. I've also, on occasion, eaten the freshly emerged leaves in the spring (the mature plant is toxic to consume). And years ago I used poke in my very first conventional cyanotype print, which I made into Poke Salad:

Upon reflection I realized that I haven't used it since, so it was time to give it another treatment.

I let the prints expose for roughly 6 hours. Here are the finished but un-rinsed prints.
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 I love this orange color and wish more of it stayed in the rinse out.
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This 16" by 20" print of a plume poppy and a calla leaf shows a lot of potential.
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 This small Virginia creeper print dried out a bit too quickly, and the leaves shriveled, making the edges less distinct. I failed to wet it sufficiently to allow for the relative dryness of only 50% humidity. But the background is looking good, and since the ultimate goal of these prints is to be used in my art quilts, I have several options available if I decide to add more crispness to the edges later.
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 The poke leaves in the lower part of this print also dried and shriveled rather quickly, but I like the preview of what happened there.
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 Here are the finished prints:
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 The look good to me! I like the way the sun burns through the silvery bits on calla leaves.
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 This is a dynamic one:
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 Again, some blurring, but nicely artistic blurring:
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 And I'm in love with this poke print, there's so much going on here. It's always a bit tricky to photograph textiles, as the lens can't convey accurately all of the texture, and that's particularly true with this print. In person it's captivating, to me at least.
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As always, thanks for reading and commenting!

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