I’ve always wanted to try making sun prints, but for some reason, I never got around to it until recently, when a friend of mine made a series of cyanotype greetings cards for her Etsy shop. Those cards inspired me to give it a go.
Cyanotypes (aka sun prints) are created by placing objects on light-sensitive paper. When the paper is exposed to sunlight, it creates a brilliant cyan-blue image.
Today I wanted to share a little bit about the history of cyanotype prints and show you how to create prints of your own.
The First Book to Use Photographic Illustrations
In 1843, a woman named Anna Atkins began to play around with cyanotypes to capture images of her native Britsh seaweed collection. Over the next 10 years, Ms. Atkins would publish versions of her photo book for friends. The book was titled Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. This book is considered to be one of the first books illustrated with photographs.
I found it completely inspiring that a woman in 1843 was the first person to use this newly developed photographic technique to document her botanical collection. The historical significance of the books she published can’t be understated. If you are interested in seeing Ms. Atkins’ original images, they can be viewed online at the New York Public library.
Step by Step Instructions
If you’d like to try the process yourself, I made a video showing the step-by-step process I use to create prints.
I’m participating in the 100 Day Project this year, and I’ve picked cyanotype prints for my focus. For 100 days starting today, January 30, 2021, I will create a cyanotype print. I’ll share the process on my Instagram stories.
Cyanotype prints are fun to make, and I’d love to hear if you try them. Just leave a comment and tell me what you think.
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