Monday, October 3, 2011

Fun With Cyanotype!

The first process we were taught this semester in my Surface Design class was cyanotype. Cyanotype uses two chemicals, ammonium iron citrate and potassium ferricyanide, and when exposed they turn the fabric they are applied to blue. The unexposed areas, when done correctly, stay white (or the original fabric color).

I had big (literally) plans for my cyanotype project, but they didn't turn out as expected. Luckily, I'm quite used to my first idea not working out, so I was able to come up with an even better project.

For the process, we first coated our fabric with the mixture of the two chemicals and let dry in a completely dark room.

Mixing chemicals in a small, dark room.

 Once dry, you can expose the fabric with a stencil covering the areas you want to stay white. I drew on some thin plastic I found in the supply closet with Sharpie, so that the light would be blocked out of the areas I drew. I was trying to draw little knit stitches...

At this point I should have known I was doomed.... they look like hearts!

Time to expose! You can do this in the sun, but as the sun can vary so much, I used our exposure table at school.

Yay for UV lights!

After it's exposed, you wash it out immediately so that it doesn't expose further. Even though my design was bust, the actual exposing process worked perfectly.

So what should I do? Well, soda ash takes cyanotype out of fabric, and leaves it looking a little yellow. So I washed the entire piece of fabric with water and soda ash, re-coated it, exposed it with no stencil so it was just blue, and screenprinted with soda ash mixed into print paste.

Click the image to see it bigger.

I printed close-up images of things that I've knitted throughout my life for myself and others. I ended up being very happy with the outcome, and I got a lot of positive feedback in critique as well.

Now I just have to figure out how to make my next project better (or at least on par with) this one. I'm totally stumped right now for ideas!

-- Laura