Working with Cyanotype Fabric

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Just last week, I wrapped up my last cyanotype workshop for the month and I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll get to continue on another similar project soon. It will make my year really special if it happens, but I’m not going to talk about it for fear of jinxing it! Anyway, a while back, I procured some washi tape when I popped by one of my old work places. We were just catching up and I can’t remember what transpired out of our many conversations, but we ended up wondering if the prints on washi tape could transfer successfully onto a cyanotype print. I gave the tapes a run for their money at one of my workshop classes and they came out beautifully. Spurred on by all the fun everyone was having, I made a mental note to make a blog post documenting the cyanotype process.

So, here it is!

Materials

Cyanotype Fabric | Plants | Acrylic Sheet | Chipboard | Binder Clips | Water | Hydrogen Peroxide | Almighty Sun

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Take a walk around your local park and find some interesting plants to work with. You need to press them in between heavy books for about a week to get rid of moisture and ensure they are completely flat.

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Arrange your plants on the pre-soaked cyanotype fabric. I cut mine in a circular fashion because I wanted to fit them onto an embroidery hoop. You have to work in a dimly lit room because the cyanotype fabric is light sensitive. It will start developing once it has been exposed to sunlight. Cyanotype fabric can be bought at Blueprints on Fabric or you can choose to get an Inkodye kit (not cyanotype, but it works in a similar way).

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I played around with layering in a constellation pattern I made and also created a washi tape sampler for future reference.

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Once you are done sandwiching your print in between the acrylic sheet and chipboard, clip them tightly together with binder clips. Choose a spot with the strongest sunlight and place your board right there. The above picture is obviously not being sunned in strong sunlight, it is in the shade because that makes a nicer picture. Time needed to sun: 10 minutes. If the sun decides to play hide and seek, leave it out for a longer period of time.

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Gently remove your plants after the time is up and quickly chuck them into a tub of water.

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You need to go through three washing stages. 1) Initial Water Bath consisting of only distilled water. 2) Hydrogen Peroxide Bath consisting of water plus a small cap full of hydrogen peroxide 3% solution. 3) Final Rinse Bath which is constant running water.

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Wash the fabric in plain distilled water for about 5 minutes. You can see the intensity of the blue is pretty meh here.

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After the first bath, get ready a fresh tub of water that has been filled with hydrogen peroxide and watch it magically darken to a lovely prussian blue! Once that finishes, prepare to wash it in another tub of constant running water for approximately 10 minutes.

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And voila! You are done! Hang your fabrics out in the sun to dry and iron it to get rid of the wrinkles.

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If you are feeling crafty, you can create mixed media artwork with your fabric pieces! Cut out little fishes and have them swim around your globe shaped aquarium. Or get out some embroidery threads and fill in the blank spaces.

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The embroidery stitches used here are the french knot and a ribbed spider web stitch. They make great imaginary dandelion plants. Once you are done, hang it on the wall and enjoy your new piece of art!

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  • Kaitlyn bright

    Loved this post as I’m about to attempt this! Or at least get the guts o order the products. Cool on the washi tape and love your embroidery addition.

    • Cheryl

      Thank you for your kind comments! I’m excited to hear that you are going to give this a go! Cyanotype is a fascinating printing process, it is something that all ages seem to enjoy! Good luck and have fun with your first attempt! 🙂