Interlude - Cyantype printing

For this experiment I used the 'Peeznkarat' Cyanotype Kit from Art Van Go

First Attempt

The first time I tired this I waited until it was really dark then mixed the 2 powders with distilled water, then mixed together. I then soaked a metre of fabric into the solution (which turned it green) then put in a lined black box to dry. A few days later the fabric still wasn't dry, so (in the day) I took it out of the box and hung it in the air cupboard. This process turned some of the fabric blue, as it had had contact with light. For the images, I placed various items on the fabric, waited for them to turn navy blue, then rinsed with water, until the green dye had gone.


Lessons learnt:

  • When I came to use the fabric, the process of getting it out and cutting it into usable pieces made the fabric turn blue (develop) quicker than I could use it - Cut the fabric before dying
  • As the fabric was large, it was creased in the dying & drying process, so the finished pieces had lots of creases. Dry flat if creases aren't wanted - although they do look interesting!
  • Some of the images were put out when there was clouds - which resulted in the images being a bit faded, and the blue being paler. For intense images, use in direct cloud free sunlight.
  • I also left some out for a long time, and the images appeared blurry- where the sun had slightly moved in the process, creating a shadowy effect. Process quickly for sharp images.
My second attempt:

This time I cut the fabric into A4 sizes pieces. I waited until it was quite dark and did all the dying within a black bin bag - to keep the light out. I loosely stitched 3 pieces together and used this thread to hang the fabric to dry in the black box - this meant they hung flat and didn't have creased as before.

Lessons learnt:
  • The fabric still took ages to dry, so I used a wet piece. The image worked realy well, but when I rinsed the fabric, the navy blue turned to a very pale blue. Make sure fabric is completely dry.
  • From a piece of tissue left in the bathroom over night (that hadn't turned), I also discovered that it is sunlight that processes the fabric, NOT a light bulb. Therefore I can dye and dry with a light on - how silly have I been ... working in complete darkness!
From googling cyanotype and Photogram I descovered some useful info.

Interesting artists: Anna Aktins,
Other products:



  • Unexposed fabric CAN be ironed before exposure. Use a DRY iron that does not spit or leak water.
  • A small amount of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (1 teaspoon H.P. to one gallon water) can be used in the first rinse water. This will cause the blue color to immediately deepen to it's final color.
How Cyanotype works

Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that gives a cyan-blue print, used to produce large-scale copies of their work, referred to as blueprints. Two chemicals are used in the process Ammonium iron(III) citrate and Potassium ferricyanide. It was Anna Atkins who brought this to photography, creating a limited series of cyanotype books that documented ferns and other plant life from her extensive seaweed collection. Atkins used this photogram process of placed specimens directly onto coated paper, allowing the action of light to create a sillhouette effect.

Upon exposure to ultraviolet light (such as that in sunlight), the iron in the exposed areas will reduce, turning the paper a steel-grey-blue color. The highlight values should appear overexposed as the water wash will reduce the final print values.

After exposure, developing of the picture involves the yellow, unreacted iron solution being rinsed off with running water. When considering the cyanotype process the blue colour is usually the desired effect, however there are a variety of effects that can be achieved. The effects fall into three categories: reducing, intensifying and toning. Cyantotypes on cloth are permanent but must be washed by hand with non-phosphate soap (not phosphates, soda, borax or bleach) so as to not turn the cyan to yellow.

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