Cyanotypes are a really fun way to make photographic prints at home, because the chemistry is only sensitive to UV light (no need for a darkroom) and you only need the sun to expose them. I like making cyanotypes because it’s a true photographic process and my favourite colour is blue. Here’s a tutorial on how to make cyanotypes at home.
Things you need:
- Gloves (to protect your hands)
- Newspaper (in case of spills)
- Measuring cup/spoons
- 3 containers
- 2 stirring rods/spoons
- Paint brush
- Watercolour paper (very important that it is absorbent paper)
- Glass plates (I take the glass out of photo frames and use that)
- Large negatives or printed transparencies
- Clothes pegs
- 100ml water
- 1.5 tablespoons ammonium citrate
- 0.4 (slightly less than half) tablespoons of ferricyanide
1. Get all your stuff together. Make sure there’s no chance of your chemistry or prints getting exposed to UV light (draw the curtains - make sure no sunlight is getting in.) Divide your 100ml water evenly between 2 containers (50ml each).
2. Measure out your chemistry and mix chemicals separately in 2 containers.
3. Mix the 2 solutions together in a third container. You can then start painting the chemistry onto your paper. There should be enough of the solution to make over 25 A4 pages.
4. Allow the paper to dry somewhere where UV light can’t get to it. I usually make the chemistry and paint at night and let them dry on the floor in my room.
5. When the paper is dry, it’s time to make prints. Cyanotypes work as contact prints, so you’ll need to have a large negative or printed transparency to make your print.
You place the transparency directly onto the paper then put the glass on top. I use clothes pegs to keep it all in place.
6. Expose the cyanotype paper outside in the sun. Times vary from 5 minutes (bright sun) to 40 minutes (cloudy day).
7. After you’ve exposed your paper, rinse it in running water and the image should appear more clearly. Then let it dry and you’re finished.
If you need help or have more questions about the process, don’t hesitate to ask!