This Summer I have had the opportunity to learn some things that had been on my wish list for a long time: the first one of these was creating cyanotype prints in the company of four other eager learners and under the guidance of artist Helen Dixon at Bainbridge Print Studios.
I was aware of the existence of Bainbridge Print Studios but had never been there so was delighted to discover such a well-equiped printing facility within walking distance of my house! The studios are tucked away in a council block off East Street, half-way between Camberwell and Elephant and Castle. They offer very reasonably priced open access facilities as well as printmaking courses so do check out their website to find out more.
Helen is a wonderful teacher, and her fascination with the medium is contagious. She showed us examples of her work, introduced us to the materials and explained the ins and outs of the technique – after that, we were let loose to play and experiment. I had always been under the mistaken impression that cyanotypes were all about creating images by placing natural shapes such as leaves, flowers and algae on a light-sensitive surface and then exposing this to sunlight. That is in fact how cyanotypes were first discovered, but there is so much more to this technique! We also experimented with ink, thread, tracing paper and photo negatives: you can see some of our test prints below:
For me, one of the most interesting possibilites of the technique -unsurprisingly, given the nature of my work- was being able to produce detailed photographic images in such a simple way. These were the first results printing from our own negatives, exposed under controlled UV light:
I chose to use an old photograph of two boys that you may have seen elsewhere the site, as iit forms part of the motif in a silk scarf called ‘Winter memories’
My negative printed perfectly on first attempt, so there was no room for improvement with this particular experiment! I was pleased that it also turned out well when developed under sunlight, as this is something I can replicate in my studio -at least during the Summer- without special equipment.
Of course I also had a go at making prints just placing leaves and textures on the paper, but found this to be the least interesting part of the process. I felt that drawing and painting on acetate offered more scope for development so this is something I may take further in the studio. The results on the day were varied, as you can see here:
All in all, an exciting day getting to grips with a new technique in great company. If you want to learn to make cyanotypes I can really recommend this workshop at Bainbridge Studios: full details and upcoming dates here.
ARTIST & MAKER
My work is often humorous and whimsical – unless my romantic side takes over and then we enter into a fairy-tale territory of old-fashioned script, pages of books and music scores populated by chivalrous gentlemen, glamorous ladies, butterflies and rabbits.
LEARN WITH ME
Would you like to explore your creative side? I use the wonderful techniques of decoupage and collage in much of my work, and now I can teach you how to create your very own masterpieces!