Teaching Materials - Exercise

Cyanotype printing : The contour of an image

Name of Artist Educator: Li Hiu Wa
Level:
Excercise Category: Class Prelude

Like a pair of hands could become a flying bird on the wall when they are under the light. Starting with observing the outlines of different objects from our daily life, students should explore different ways to decode the objects around them and become more imaginative towards the trivial objects that they have once viewed as boring.


Concept / Inspiration:

Like a pair of hands could become a flying bird on the wall when they are under the light. Starting with observing the outlines of different objects from our daily life, students should explore different ways to decode the objects around them and become more imaginative towards the trivial objects that they have once viewed as boring.

When we see something that is familiar to us, our brain could immediately tell us its name and functions. However, apart from the normal explanations, are there any other different perspectives? With the use of the blue printing, the 3-dimentional objects could be transformed into a 2-dimentional contour. Students are encouraged to use different ways to decode an object into lines and contour. They could try to change the way on how they normally view an object. They could also make use of creativity to associate different objects in order to create another complex. For example, a pair of hands could become a flying bird on the wall when they are under the light. Starting with observing the outlines of different objects from our daily life, students should explore different ways to decode the objects around them. And they would then become more imaginative towards the trivial objects that they have once viewed as boring.

Cyanotype is actually a shadow-related skill. It does not require traditional developing skills of camera. Simply place the developer-coated paper under the sunlight. The materials on the paper would react with the ultraviolet light from the sun. Different depths of blue would appear on the paper. If an object is placed on the paper, the object would block the sunlight from chemical materials. This would only allow the contour of the object to be retained on the paper.


Goals:

  1. To encourage students to pay attention to the contour of objects in daily life. Find out different ways of understanding. Imagine how different complex could be formed by using these contours.
  2. To let students have a taste of cyanotype printing.

Materials / Equipment:

  • Chemical (enough for 180-200 pieces of A5 size paper) (stores selling chemical materials mainly located in Sham Shui Po)
  • Chemical solution A: 75 g Ferric Ammonium Citrate and 300 mL distilled water
  • Chemical solution B: 30 g Potassium Ferricyanide and 300 mL distilled water
  • Brush , A5 paper (better above 200 gsm), black plastic pocket (the pockets are often used for putting films, it could be replaced by Focusing Cloths (To cover up other lights indoor)
  • Electronic scales
  • Two plastic glass
  • Four light proof container
  • Water
  • Thin glass pane (not a must)

Location:

Indoor with dim light, areas with sufficient sunshine


Workshop Description:

Part One│Preparation: making developer-coated paper (20 – 30 minutes)

1. Instructor would prepare the solution first.

To dissolve the Ferric Ammonium Citrate and Potassium Ferricyanide with distilled water into liquid separately. It is essential to guarantee that the compounds are completely dissolved into water. Mix the two solutions only before use.

The ratio for Ferric Ammonium Citrate and Potassium Ferricyanide is 2.5:1. Each gram of Potassium Ferricyanide has to be mixed with 2.5g of Ferric Ammonium Citrate. For solution A, the ratio for Ferric Ammonium Citrate and water is 1 to 4. Each gram of ferric ammonium citrate has to be mixed with 4 mL of water. For solution B, the same amount of water with solution A will be needed.

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Ammonium Citrate: It can be brown or light green.                                        Potassium Ferricyanide: scarlet

 

2. Dim the light in room when mixing solution A and solution B. The normal light from the indoor would not affect the effects. However, it is important to undergo the process without ultraviolet. (i.e. sunlight, or ultraviolet lamp)

3. Brush the chemical mixture on a piece of A5 paper evenly. Leave the four edges. The edges would appear like a frame in the final product.

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4. Dry the paper in the room. The dried muddy yellow coated paper would become more greyish. Each piece of paper would take around 10 minutes to be dried out.

5. Place the paper in a black plastic pocket so that it could avoid the contact with sunlight.

6. The remaining solution A and B need to be placed in different light proof container separately. They should be mixed together when needed. The dissolved chemical liquid can be preserved for a month. The Ammonium Citrate and Potassium Ferricyanide before dissolution should be kept in a light proof environment while there is no expiry date.


Part Two│Cyanotype printing (30mins)

1. Students collect materials at school. They can collect light proof, translucent and transparent materials and bring back to the classroom.

2. Students move to the place where there is sufficient sunlight. Each of them will then be given a developer-coated paper.

3. Students will have to put the collected materials on the paper and design the pattern as soon as possible.

4. Leave the piece of artwork under the sunlight for enough time of expose (about 5-10 minutes). After exposure, the area which was blocked by some objects would remain white while the other area which was directly exposed would become brown.

5. Wash the chemicals that left on the paper with water. The brown area would become blue while light yellow would become white. It is important to wash all the chemicals off the paper in order to stop the chemical reaction and fix the image. The washing would take approximately 5 minutes. Students could check the yellow area. The washing process is completed if the yellow turns white.

6. Dry it in the room.

7. Students can keep the remaining paper and continue the artwork when they are home. They can keep them in a book. The papers should avoid contacting with light when they are stored. They could be stored for one month at most.

 

Note 1: If there is insufficient sunlight outside, students can make use of the ultraviolet light pipe with the same method. The exposure time may take longer but it is easier to control the strength and stability of the light. It is not recommended to undergo the process during evening if the students want to use the sunlight. This is because the ultraviolet light pipe would not be strong enough even though there is sunlight. The exposure could last up to one hour or above.

Note 2: The use of the thin glass pane:
Sometimes the cyanotype image is not clear enough. It is because the object is not fully attached to the paper in the process of the exposure. Students can place a thin glass pane on top of the object to fix it on the paper. This can be applied to the flat objects but it may cause longer exposure time.

Note 3: It is advised to supplement the exercise with Li Hiu Wa’s “Cyanotype printing –Overlapping“.


Expected Outcome:

Most students do not know what film and film camera is. They could hardly understand the imaging process. Since cyanotype printing and film process are similar, it is hoped that the exercise could show them the whole process of imaging. They could understand what light sensitive and exposure are.


Actual Outcome:

During Class:

For better understanding of the theory, instructor made use of metaphor of sunbath. When we stand under the sunlight for a while, our skin gets tanned. When we swim under sunlight with swimming googles on, it would leave the marks on our face.

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Thomas Lin, another artist educator’s class:

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The wide variety of the materials used:

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Work:

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Reference Materials:

How to do cyanotype:
http://digiphoto.techbang.com/posts/1101-cool-qingbanlanshai-process-cyanotype?page=1

Ryota Kuwakubo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kbNzlU8srA

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