Paper Mayhem and Traditional Cyanotype

During August, I resumed working on cyanotypes of dried fungi. See the early post titled “My Inner Anna Atkins”.  I had to work out some paper and drying issues. I went from using Coventry Rag Vellum White to acidifying Fabriano Artistico Hot Press Extra White. Then I tried various papers I had on hand, first re-acidifying the paper with household vinegar in case the paper was buffered. I tried Sommerset Vellum (aweful), BFK (better), a hot press Arches (better) and finally returned to the Coventry Rag Vellum White.

I can’t say why it worked better at the end. Comparing the look of the Coventry and the Fabriano, the Fabriano looks grainier. Also, many of the papers demonstrated “bleach back” of the highlights during drying. To put this into better words, the highlights of the images got lighter as they dried down. This happened the least with Coventry Rag Vellum White. It happened the most with BFK and Arches. The Sommerset had a strange characteristic of losing sharpness as the emulsion migrated through the paper to the back.

I eventually made the use of a hairdryer part of getting the coated paper ready to print. Almost all of the papers that were hung to air dry developed darker splotches usually in the dark ground. Anything that was “Blow Dried” yielded a clean emulsion on which to print.

Here is one of my favorites from the set of five that I made for In Vivo.

cyanotype of dried fungus


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