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How to make Cyanotype Prints
:: printing and toning instructions

Cyanotype Printing
printing and toning instructions

It is easy to make a cyanotype print and of course immensely gratifying!

Keep in mind that you are working with ulta violet light (UV) sesitive material. Stage your initial set-up in your house or in the shade away from UV light.

Cyanotype printing is a contact print process so you need an object or negative the same size as the print you want.

Use a dry iron to remove any wrinkles from the fabric before printing.

printing instructions:

Step 1 Choose a design that you want to print. Some ideas: flowers, leaves, photograph negatives, drawings on acetate, computer generated images on acetate, toys, clip art, found objects, etc. This is where you really get to use your imagination. Don't limit your self. Try anything! Visit our community site to see what others are doing.

Step 2 Remove your cyanotype material from its UV safe bag and place it on a ridged flat work surface (image 1). Make sure to keep the unused materials in there UV safe bag. Press air out of the bag to keep materials fresh, then tape to seal. 

Step 3 Lay, pin or tape down your design (see image 2). A sheet of plexi glass works well to secure the design in place.

image 1

 image 2image 3image 4

Step 4 Expose your design facing the sun (image 3). If it does not face the sun, it will print the shadows of your objects, which can create a very interesting effect. Moving or changing your design around during your exposure time, can give another creative effect.

Exposure times  Expose cyanotype cotton or watercolor paper for 10-20 minutes and cyanotype silks for 5-10. A heavier silk, like charmeuse, will need a longer exposure time and a lighter silk, like chiffon will need less time. To help manage your result and avoid wasting time and materials, make an exposure test strip that includes a range of times on a small single piece of fabric or paper.

Step 5 Rinse the exposed cyanotype  materials in water, after you remove your design. Rinse until the water runs clear. You will see your cyanotype magically appear and also see why cyanotypes are amazing!

Step 6 Dry fabrics in clothes dryer or hang to dry outdoors. You can use an iron to press out any wrinkle in the fabric. Dry watercolor paper by laying it on a towel/blotter or by using a hair dryer. The final rich cyan/Prussian blue color of your print will stabilize (darken slightly) in 12-24 hours.

tonning instructions:

Tone your blue print to a yellow print

Step 1 To tone your blue print to a yellow print, first mix any detergent containing phosphates with water in a spray bottle. Add approximately
1 tablespoon of detergent and water to fill a spray bottle. Detergent brand with phosphate include:  TIDE, Cascade, All and TSP (try sodium phosphate). Read the label to confirm it contains phosphate.


Step 2 Spray your detergent mixture onto your blueprint and it will change from blue to yellow (see images 1 - 3). Rinse in water (see image 4).

Tone your yellow print to a sepia/brown print

Step 1 Add 5-10 tea bags (black tea) to 5 cups of boiling water. Steep tea for 10 minutes. Let cool (see image 1).
Step 2 Place your yellow print into the tea bath and let it soak for approximately 10-20  minutes. Note:  the more tea you add the darker your sepia/brown print will become (see image 2).
Step 3 Remove your sepia/brown print from the tea bath and rinse gently in water (see image 3).
Step 4 Dry your print in a clothes dryer or with a warm iron.