Wet Cyanotype Process

I have been creating cyanotype prints on fabric since I learned about the process from Sue Reno  in 2006. I enjoy the process and I feature cyanotype prints in many of my art quilts. I’ve used pre-treated cotton, raw silk, china silk and silk organza to create my prints. Each fabric features it’s particular fingerprint in the process, each one revealing subtleties that I like. I particularly enjoy the range of blue colors that the different fabrics produce — from delicate light blue to bold, dark blue — each appropriate to the unique setting that I use them in.

Recent Instagram posts have revealed experimentation by artists creating wet cyanotypes, tagged #wetcyan. The artists working on fabric posted results spraying water on their fabric and leaving it in the sun for long periods of exposure, 24 hours or more. My practice with the dry method has allowed for exposure for about 10 minutes. I had to try this.

I had pre-treated fabric that I brought with me from California — translation: it was over 2 years old. My supplier recommends using the treated fabric within 6 months. But what did I have to lose? I had white pre-treated fabric and a small amount of yellow pre-treated fabric. After gathering a few botanicals I got busy.

I sprayed the work surface, placed the fabric on top, positioned the fern and wild blackberry leaves, and sprayed the fabric surface. A sheet of glass was placed on top. Click on images for a larger view.

Within minutes I could see there was action. Color began to appear and the intense afternoon sun was cooking the leaves.

At noon the following day the chemicals were still reacting and creating a stew of colors.

I brought the fabric in and rinsed it out after 24 hours exposure. Here it is drying.

I was thrilled with the yellow, orange, brown and green colors that were revealed. Here are two more prints done at the same time. That’s rosemary on the left, Queen Anne’s Lace on the right.

My next experiment used smaller pieces of fabric and a shorter exposure time.

Again, the chemical reactions were happening immediately.

Here they are, dry.

I couldn’t resist a refrigerator raid for some Italian flat-leaf parsley.

And here are the printed scraps of yellow fabric I had. I love the dramatic colors on these!

I will be ordering more fabric from my supplier. I am eager to see if there is a significant difference in the chemical reactions with freshly treated fabric. Stay tuned.

What have you been experimenting with lately?

16 replies
    • Franki Kohler
      Franki Kohler says:

      I have a stack of possibilities on my work surface already. I will be putting prints on the design wall shortly.

  1. Christy
    Christy says:

    What a great result. Can’t wait to see these new colors being worked into your collection

    • Franki Kohler
      Franki Kohler says:

      Thanks Ann! I am too. Right after I started these experiments I went to a 4-day class on botanical printing! Still trying to catch up. Stay tuned.

  2. Sue Reno
    Sue Reno says:

    These turned out great, Franki! Isn’t it exciting to find new tricks for this tried and true process? I’ll look forward to seeing the results from your next batch of experiments. And thanks for the shoutout.

    • Franki Kohler
      Franki Kohler says:

      Thank you Sue! It is very exciting to be creating these prints. I am eager to try more experimenting. Before I do that I need to catch up after a 4-day class on botanical printing. Shoutout required. I always like to acknowledge where I find my inspiration.

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