Cyanotype on Canvas

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by seeyf, Jul 9, 2011.

  1. seeyf

    seeyf Member

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    Hi, I'm trying to do a cyanotype on some raw cotton canvas that I bought, using the classic formula found here.

    However, even after exposing for an hour in sunlight, I got quite a faint print that was light blue in colour. What should I do to improve the print quality? I tried the same formula on normal cartridge paper and it turned out fine, so it could be something to do with the canvas. The canvas doesn't absorb the chemical very well and I have to do several strokes with my brush to get it fully coated - could that be a problem?
     
  2. Gadfly_71

    Gadfly_71 Subscriber

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    The canvas may have sizing left over from the manufacturing process. You may need to wash the fabric first.

    -Andrew
     
  3. jpberger

    jpberger Member

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    I know a lot of people do cyanotype on cloth but it's usually something fairly fine. Might be interesting to try the same thing working with primed/gessoed canvas and then putting a few coats golden-acrylic absorbent ground. Might not be the look you want though.
     
  4. seeyf

    seeyf Member

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    Thanks for the advice, I'll wash the canvas and see if it works!
     
  5. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Don't use any soap. You want to avoid making the cloth alkaline and soap may do that. If anything, I might add a bit of white vinegar to the water to acidify it just in case.

    I haven't used canvas but have done 9'x9' cyanotypes on muslin successfully. I sensitize by dunking the entire prewashed and dried fabric in a bucket filled with cyanotype sensitizer, then wring it out and hang to dry in a darkened room over some newspaper with a plastic dropcloth underneath.

    I've attached an example photogram.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Gadfly_71

    Gadfly_71 Subscriber

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    I learned the hard way. It was kinda funny too. Earlier in the day I'd done a Vandyke on a canvas tote and it had worked perfectly. Of course I hadn't washed it first because it wasn't necessary for VDB (quite the opposite actually, you really need the fabric to be sized for Vandyke). Then I tried cyanotype on the same material (I bought several blank canvas totes) and it washed away, just like yours. D'oh!
     
  7. seeyf

    seeyf Member

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    Just to update, I tried it again with the canvas pre-washed in vinegar as advised, but it still didn't work. Most probable the best way would be to soak it in the chemical, but I didn't hav enough to try that out. Nevertheless, I did a print on watercolour paper which worked perfectly.
     
  8. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    There was a tip on a couple of sites dealing with cyanotypes on fabric. For development it is recommended that 3% hydrogen peroxide be added to the rinse water. This is said to produce deeper blues.
     
  9. JOSarff

    JOSarff Member

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    seeyf:

    Just a quick question, what is your location? That may have some impact on exposure. Otherwise try Gerald's suggestion.

    Joe
     
  10. seeyf

    seeyf Member

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    I'm in Singapore. No more chemical to try it out anymore though, but I'll keep that in mind for future use. Thanks!
     
  11. puderse

    puderse Member

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    Try again

    I've made hundreds (thousands?) of cyanotypes here in Texas. Enlarged onto high contrast neg or pos film up to 24X36 and contact print in the sunlight. My wife is a quilter and she incorperates them into quilts and sells them to others as well.

    Wash the cloth well and rinse well with a little acetic acid the last time. Water quality matters. It's an acid-base thing. Same goes for washing the finished project.

    In the dark: mix and put your chemistry (Fotographers Formulary kits and bulk chemicals) in a big tray. Remember it's poison. Put the cloth (any all-natural fabric) and soak up the chemical. Add additional pre-cut (torn) pieces until all the chemistry is soaked up. Painting the chemistry may not put enough chemistry in the cloth. Roller sqeegie on a big sheet of plate glass so that the excess drains into the tray. Keep going untill all the chemistry is used. Hang up in the dark until dry. Store in a good paper box and use within a week. (You are going to make a mess, strong soap will clean up after the lights are on)

    Synthetic blend fabric will not work. All silk, cotton, linen, etc. 100% white cotton sheets are cheap at garage sales.

    Never tried to do paper!
     
  12. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    So you're printing the quilting squares before sewing. Not printing the finished quilt. Do I read this correct?

    MB
     
  13. puderse

    puderse Member

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    quilt pieces

    How in the world would you print on a quilt? Try to lift a soaking wet quilt out of the washing machine!

    Anything you can get onto a litho neg can be printed on natural fabric and put into a quilt.

    This is all from the '70s. Today they just print on fabric with a copy machine.