On dérives around cities such as Cardiff, London and Prague, I digitally capture fleeting and ‘found’ moments and monuments, later inverting the light values to convey mysterious, phantasmagoric effects. Through my interest in alternative photographic techniques, such as cyanotype and photogram, I have also begun to experiment with altering the printed images through the use of natural dyes such as tannin and tumeric to render contemporary scenes vintage. Altering the images is a way of reclaiming urban space, creating new worlds from familiar sights. Selected images will be made into large-scale screen prints.
For our Saturday afternoon drop-in session to experiment with cyanotype, or sun prints, participants brought along an assortment of things to try out on the photo-sensitive paper. Beads and seeds, feathers and flowers fresh from the garden were laid out and placed under the UV light bed for exposure.
Creating compositions using a variety of materials.
The most effective were often the most transparent or delicate items. Mary brought along a tracing on acetate of grasses she had made for a lino cut, and this worked beautifully, with small skeins of wool for clouds. Experimenting with double-exposure techniques added depth and interest: netting placed over the exposed grasses gave the effect of light rippling through them.
Rosalind, who is a wonderful illustrator, began to draw her designs on tracing paper, adding photogram items such as glass beads to enhance the composition. The tracing paper also adds varying tones.
Glass bottles from a flea market became ghostly alchemist’s wares. Sally’s double exposure using feathers and dried hydrangea flowers was also magical.
‘Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardour, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shames, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.’
— Aldous Huxley
We began the session drawing faces, practicing on tracing paper before transferring to the styrofoam. The children quickly got the hang of etching into it, creating wonderfully detailed characters.
They were excited about seeing the progression from their drawing to being able to pull multiple prints from their etchings, and were soon confident enough to go straight into etching out their ideas.
Next, the children chose a leaf from a selection collected in the park, and attempted to name the type of tree it was from. They chose from two coloured inks that I had rolled out, printing the leaves in their own designs to create a background.
Onto this background, styrofoam stamps that the children had drawn and carefully cut out were printed to create the finished pictures. Fantastic work!
This was a Cyanotype Drop-in Session I ran at Cardiff Print Workshop. After my short introduction about the history and process of cyanotype printmaking, participants experimented with a variety of objects and techniques to produce interesting, abstract photograms.
Jenny syringing water designs onto the surface before exposing
Derek’s space-inspired piece using glass beads, agate, seeds and water.
Rinsing the pictures after exposure