Cyanotype Experiment

Blue Prints on Fabric, my source for fabrics treated for creating prints, has a new product. Hand-dyed cotton fabrics — available in medium pink, turquoise blue, bright orange, chartreuse green and medium yellow — are then treated with cyanotype solution. These fabrics provide a new twist on the classic blue and white of the historical cyanotype printing process.

I recently received a yard of medium yellow fabric, tore off a piece about the size of a fat quarter and printed using California Poppies.

Franki Kohler, Experiment with cyanotypeThe area protected from u.v. light remains the color of the dyed cotton while the area not protected obtains a unique color as the cyanotype chemistry turns blue but also reacts with the base dye color. From this photograph it may be difficult to discern the subtle change in the background color from strictly blue to the blue-green I see in my studio. Evidence of that is revealed on portions of the stems where the stems were not making complete contact with the fabric.

In the past I have used primarily flat plant segments such as leaves or dried flowers to create prints. Using these flat sources has meant that complete contact with the fabric was much easier to achieve. I’m not entirely unhappy with the varied level of contact from these fresh-cut California poppies though. In fact, I rather like the variety of color that this print created.

A word of caution about using fresh specimens: Pinning the fleshy specimen to the fabric means you pierce the skin and release some of the fluid from the plant. Notice the far left flower stem and little ‘blob’ 3 inches below the bloom. That is where the pin released liquid from the stem and the chemical began to run. I was lucky to have only one such blob. If there had been many such leaks I probably wouldn’t consider using this print. However, with one small one like this I am comfortable considering it for a future project.

6 replies
  1. Aileyn Ecob
    Aileyn Ecob says:

    I like the green on some of the stems and leaves. It is more interesting that if they were totally green. Expect to see this soon! Aileyn

  2. vivian helena Aumond-Capone
    vivian helena Aumond-Capone says:

    I think we become to critical, since we are looking at everything we do so closely. Step back.. the “blob” could be a natural part of the plant.. We tend to have a preconceived idea of what we expect.. I think it looks lovely.

    • Franki Kohler
      Franki Kohler says:

      I absolutely agree Vivian. We are too critical of our own work — we’re just too close to it. With this particular print the ‘blob’ won’t be visible at all after I’ve threadpainted and quilted the heck out of it. Sometimes, though, the chemical run is just too large to ignore.

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