Sun Prints for Cards Cyanotype Developing
Summer is the time to play in the sun—so what’s more fitting for a card maker than to make a seasonal card that literally brings the sun into the creative process? A cyanotype, or sun print, allows you to take pictures without a camera, and if premade cyanotype paper is used, you won’t even have to mix chemicals to develop your masterpiece! Typically, cyanotypes are made with found objects—leaves, flowers, feathers, keys— anything that has an interesting silhouette. Most paper crafters have many interesting silhouettes in the form of die cuts, so rather than make projects with nature, why not utilize what’s in the studio?
The cyanotype process is so simple a child can do it; as a matter of fact, making sun prints is a terrific, kidfriendly activity and a way to involve youngsters in making cards. Cyanotype paper can be manufactured at home by applying iron salts to watercolor paper, or it can be purchased premade. Both work the same way: The sun’s ultraviolet rays react with the iron salts, turning the exposed paper pale blue while the paper beneath the object remains unchanged. The cyanotype print is then immersed in water to remove the nonreactive iron salts. The end result is a dramatic white image on a deep blue background.
Although typically blue in color, there are three techniques used to achieve variety in a cyanotype’s appearance: reducing, intensifying and toning. Cyanotypes can also be further embellished by stamping and/or coloring with a variety of mediums.
Select an item with an interesting silhouette. Step 2: Assemble “print bundle” in this order: cardboard base, cyanotype paper with blue side up, die cut or other object and clear acrylic sheet. Secure bundle with bulldog clips to keep everything flat and to prevent shifting (Photo 1).
Step 3: Place bundle outside in unfiltered sunlight for 2–20 minutes, depending on strength of light. A bright, sunny day at high noon takes less than five minutes; an overcast day or waning sunlight may require as much as 20 minutes. Exposure is complete when paper fades to pale blue (Photo 2).
Step 4: Disassemble bundle; remove object to reveal deep blue silhouette. This is the cyanotype in its negative state (Photo 3).
Step 6: Lay print flat to dry on a paper or cloth towel; the blue will continue to deepen as it dries.
Step 7: When completely dry, remove any warping by putting print beneath stack of books overnight or by ironing on low heat.