When I first started dabbling in cyanotypes, I thought that summer would be the ideal time to create them. It was logical after all – cyanotype is a photographic process that utilizes ultraviolet light to expose specially sensitized paper. Seattle’s winters and springs are not well known for sunlight.
However, March has become my favorite time of year to make cyanotypes. The debris of winter rains yields many plant materials suitable for photo-grams. And when the clouds permit a sunburst, spring fever propels me to capture the fresh, warm sunlight on paper that will turn as blue as a clear sky.
This was the first year that I tried coating my own watercolor paper with cyanotype chemicals. It turned out to be easier and quicker than I expected, and I was fascinated by how different papers printed differently. I played with photo-grams – which I love for the tactile nature of the process. And I also explored contact printing from negatives. The tonal responsive of cyanotype is different from gelatin silver darkroom paper; finding what works best is going to be an ongoing exploration.
April has arrived, bringing relentless clouds and showers. The lovely blues of the cyanotypes that I made remind me that the rains will pass, and in not too long summer will arrive. These prints, blue as a clear spring sky, make me very glad that in March I flirted with the sun.
Words and Images © Monika Danos