When the TQL staff decided to put together an article about sunprinting (“Solar Powered Surface Design” for the August issue) we wondered “How hard can it be?” Famous last words.
Immediately, we learned that quality control is very basic but doesn’t necessarily work. (This is hard for editors. We are terminally fussy people.) We discovered that blurry edges and “ghost” images happen when you print objects with a little thickness, like these grasses. You get a much more contrasty, opaque image when you print something really flat. A sharper image is also produced when the sun is directly overhead.
Here are a couple of the “outtakes” from putting together the cyanotype article. The sunprint on the left was made at 7:30 in the morning and was exposed for 15 minutes. The gently mottled color is like a favorite old pair of jeans. The print on the right was made at 11:00am and was exposed for the same length of time. The blue is dark and the image is much clearer. We thought this one was going to be perfect, but some liquid oozed out of one of the weeds, leaving a funny mark.
Despite these lessons in humility, the cyanotype process is really intriguing! The next time I go to the flea market I’m going to look for old photographic negatives to print. Stay tuned…
Jan Magee, The Quilt Life