Monday, June 19, 2017

Island Inspirations Weekend: Cyanotype Workshop

Over the weekend of 3rd and 4th of June Stewart Island locals and visitors came together for a Photography workshop with Graham Dainty and a Cyantoype workshop with me. We also enjoyed a fabulous shared meal and evening talks! 

Little bit of info: The cyanotype process for making prints was invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842 and came from his discovery of the light sensitivity of iron salts. It produces a deep indigo image (known as Prussian Blue), which can be printed onto many surfaces. English Botanist  Anna Atkins used the process for what is considered to be the first work with photographic illustrations, namely her Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843). 

Anna Atkins

A bit of problem solving and a broken window went on in
 order to find a way to print Janet's seaweed

Janet's large kelp print

Cyanotypes are also referred to as sunprints. There are different recipes, we used a traditional mixture using 2 solutions, a combination of Ammonium Ferric citrate (iron), Potassium ferricyanide and water.  The mixed solution was coated onto the paper in the dark with the help of red light torches (which were in abundance as used on the Island for Kiwi spotting), dried quickly with hair dryers, exposed to sunlight and washed to remove the unexposed chemistry. 

Heading off to teach away from home takes
a bit of organising, here's my scruffy list

Experimenting with different materials.

Zane and Sue plotting and planning whilst apparently
drinking meths.

Exposing prints in the sun

Lots of experimentation went on - using different mediums to block the light.

Shona: rubber stamping used as a light blocker,
printed onto silk organza
Tallis experimented with Indian ink on transparency.
 (Also, not shown, water droplets.)
Tallis's result: ink flicks combined
 with pen drawn image
Drawing with Sharpie pen on transparency

Jewellery and the ever popular onion bag

Hand drawn image, cyanotype print toned with tannin.
A dreamy pillowcase made by Annett
Pip's lace

Beautiful broken glass print - Janet.
Painted and exposed wood to show the grain
The remains on our coating boards looked good too
On day two we worked with digital negatives which required more experimentation with timing of exposures.

Digital negative

What a print looks like after exposure before being washed out.
Detail of Megan's work.

I have the cutest of friends.

Same negative, two different exposure times.
Longer in the light creates a darker image.
A side of Shona you might not have expected to see
Zane's photo, manipulated with a Photoshop filter then printed

Jo Learmonth organised some images from the Stewart Island Rakiura Museum for use for this project, applying the Creative Commons License. It was magical for me seeing these images from the past appear after exposure and washing out.

Labels from the Stewart Island Rakiura Museum printed by Pip

Megan, Janet, Shona, Sue, Annett, Pip, Sharon, Zane and Tallis you were an amazing class.

I find this a super useful reference site:

The weekend was made better by significant help from the Photography Department @ Dunedin School of Art, where I  pre-coated some papers and the University of Otago. Thanks to Dave Warren, from the Chemistry Department, fellow cyanotype enthusiast Steve Ting from SciComm (who will be hosting an upcoming workshop at Otago Museum) and Tallis Lentz, our chief chemical mixer from the Chemistry Outreach Programme. 

Stewart Island put on a stunning departure morning.

Thanks to Stewart Island Promotions for organising this creative weekend - I hope there is a repeat next year.