March 25, 2021

Experiments in wet cyanotype - part 63

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The early spring sunshine persisted so I made another batch of wet cyanotype bubble experiments.
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The first three are on mineral paper, with pressed sassafrass leaves, and dish soap bubbles added just before covering with glass.
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For the fourth one I used a red mulberry leaf. The all looked very promising right from the start.
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It's early days of experimenting with bubbles on fabric. The fabric absorbs a lot of the water structure of the bubbles so it's a bit trickier and gives a more subtle effect. This one uses pressed oak leaves, along with a bit of Solarfast chemicals.
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For the last one in this batch, I wanted to see what happened if I didn't smash the bubbles. I didn't think they would last long uncovered, but I have some glass cabinet doors left over from a remodel, and with the wood framing the glass sits up just a bit from the surface. The white spots here are the globs of bubbles. The leaves are more red mulberry.
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Here are the prints after exposure but before rinsing out. 

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I am really starting to get the hang of working with mineral paper and I like it a lot.
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You can see lots of bubble structure, along with a lot of swirly weirdness,
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The oak print looks very gothic and mysterious at this point.
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The one under the cabinet door got interesting. Some of the bubble structure remained, and got printed, but it also leaked out into a sort of corona effect. 
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Here are the finished prints. I find them to be extremely beautiful.
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The colors, the swirls, the bubbles, the imprints at the edges of the leaves all thrill me.
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Here's the oak print. Up close, you can see bubble structure. If I had been working with fresh leaves, I would have got more of an imprint in the interior of the leaf, but with the dried ones it's a blank resist. Since it is on cotton I can add vein structure with stitching as desired.
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This last one has a lot of potential. I need to pin it up on the design wall and think about it a bit. 
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March 23, 2021

Experiments in wet cyanotype - part 62


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I always like to mark the quarters of the year in some way. The spring equinox of 2021 dawned bright, sunny, and warm, so it was the perfect opportunity to open up the print studio, such as it is, and make some new wet cyanotype prints. To add a new twist to the process, I experimented with adding some soap bubbles to the compositions just before laying down the glasss. The effect on two prints done on mineral paper was immediate-the paper is very slick to start and things slide around in a very satisfying matter. These are bits of fern fronds that survived the long cold snowy winter.
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The effect on cotton sateen was more subdued, as anticipated, because the cloth is absorbent. It was still off to a good start with a pressed and dried red mulberry leaf. I added some green solarfast chemicals to this one.
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Here are the prints after about a 5 hour exposure, before rinsing. Again, very promising. I lost some of the bubbles but the soap affected how things moved around.
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And here is the mulberry on cotton, before rinsing. the bubbles are much more subtle but are still there.
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Here are the finished prints. I am very happy with them!

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They have such a good balance of light/dark and swirls/bubbles.
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Again, the bubbles on the cloth are less pronounced but still quite lovely.
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I anticipate working to fine tune the bubble enhancements in upcoming prints. 

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March 2, 2021

Experiments in wet cyanotype - part 61

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This is the final catch-up installment of last summer's prints. We've had an extra-snowy and cold winter here in Pittsburgh, PA, and I was not inspired to make any cold weather prints as I've done in the past. But the snow is finally (almost) melted, and sunny days are in the forecast, so I hope to start up printmaking again soon.
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These are prints from the hot and heady ddays  of August. I used some more of the ubiquitous and invasive  Japanese knowtweed, along with mulberry branches.
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The chemicals are a mix of cyanotype and Solarfast solar dyes.
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I use these chemicals in non-traditional ways, and am pleased with how I've been able to dial in my experiments to a place where I can sort of  have a handle on this unpredictable process.
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I've been using white mulberry leaves for years to make prints. The tree was brought here originally to feed silk worms for the domestic silk industry, and quickly escaped cultivation. It's often found colonizing disturbed ground. There are three separate leaf shapes all on the same branches, so it's a lot of fun to print from.
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Last summer, however, I discovered a small stand of native red mulberry trees. They are similar, but boast much larger leaves. I have a small child's pleasure at large leaves of all types, so this was a particular thrill for me. 
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Here is this batch of prints after exposure but before being rinsed out and finished.
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This is the white mulberry: 
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More knotweed:
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Still more knotweed: 
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And some fabulous red mulberry. All of these panels are about 4ft. x 2ft., to give you a sense of scale,
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Here are the finished prints. 
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I am so very happy with how they turned out.
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Knotweed is a disaster of an invasive plant, but it makes great prints.
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Big excitement over the red mulberry prints!
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Onward and upward in the March sunshine.

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