Cyanotype Intensifying Process
The blue color of a fully developed cyanotype will be deepened in the intensifying process, and hydrogen peroxide, citric acid, lemon juice or vinegar can be used as the activating agent. In addition to intensifying the hue, these products can also be used to shorten the developing time.
Step 1: Pour distilled water and 1–2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide into shallow pan and mix well.
Step 2: Place exposed cyanotype in peroxide bath facedown and agitate by gently tapping on paper through water; the goal is to keep the water moving.
Step 3: After desired shade of blue is reached, rinse print facedown in pan under running water for 2–5 minutes to stop colorintensifying process.
Step 4: Lay print flat to dry on paper or cloth towel; blue will continue to deepen as it dries.
Step 5: When completely dry, remove any warping by putting print beneath stack of books overnight or by ironing on low heat (Photo 7).
Cyanotype Toning Process
Toning is a two-step process that alters the actual hue of the print. First, the reducing process is used to leech the blue color from the cyanotype, and then the print is immersed in a second bath, which changes the formerly blue areas to brown, black or purple, depending on the agent used. Two popular and convenient toning agents are black tea and coffee.
Step 1: Follow steps for Cyanotype Reducing Process but do not allow it to dry.
Step 2: Brew black tea using multiple tea bags and boiling water; allow the tea to steep for at least 20 minutes. Use tea as is or dilute with water (more water equals lighter color). Alternatively, add 5–6 teaspoons of instant coffee to one cup of boiling water; mix well. Add mixture to 11/2 quarts of tepid water.
Step 3: Submerge wet print in a tea/coffee bath for at least 30 minutes—the longer the soak, the darker the result.
Step 4: Once print is desired color, remove from tea/ coffee bath and submerge in distilled water bath for 10 minutes to remove excess tannins.
Step 5: Rinse print under running water for 3–5 minutes.
Step 6: Place print flat on towel to dry (Photo 8).
A cyanotype can look fabulous just as it is, or it can be decorated with colored pencils, ink, markers, paint or pastels. The light areas are perfect for coloring and will receive most hues without clouding. The dark areas are difficult to completely cover unless the medium provides opaque coverage or is darker than the cyanotype itself (Photo 9).
Cyanotypes can be developed and embellished in many more ways than shown here, but the basic processes of reducing, intensifying and toning are great new ways to play in the sun while adding fresh techniques to your bag of creative tricks! •