July 9, 2021

Experiments in wet cyanotype - part 66


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I've collected vintage textiles, in a casual way, for a long time. I like table runners, tablecloths, and what used to be called dresser scarves. These were almost always done from kits or pattens, and used to be a mainstay of middle class decor, stitched by homemakers. They are abundantly available in flea markets, or sometimes people gift them to me, knowing I will respect them and try to give them new life.
This particular table runner had been languishing in a bin for many years. I liked the design and stitching, but couldn't warm up to the color scheme. So I used it to further my experiments with wet cyanotype and solarfast printing.

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 I cut the runner in half, to give me two canvases, applied the chemicals, and added ferns as resists
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Here is one of them, under glass, and just starting to expose. I am getting excited at this point!

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Here are the two prints after exposure but before rinse out.

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And here they are after rinse out.
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I am mildly disappointed at this juncture. The Prussian blue from the cyanotype is too heavily concentrated in some areas, and the embroidery has been overwhelmed. There's a few things potentially going on here. The fabric is unknown, but probably linen. It is thick and fairly coarsely woven (to make the embroidery easier). It soaked up a LOT of chemicals. Also, I'm certain this was starched heavily at various times, and while I washed it, some starch probably remains and affects the uptake and response to exposure.
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So, what to do? This is the fun of experimentation, because you can always keep trying. I used a washing soda solution to selectively bleach out some of the areas, followed by more rinsing, and I'm happy with the results. Here's the finished prints.
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Some of the fern edges are a bit indistinct, again due to the thick fabric and the embroidery could use a bit more highlighting, but both those issues can easily be fixed by stitching and/or painting. All in all, a good first try of using my process on vintage linens. 
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