October 1, 2023

Paper Artists Workshop for Cyanotype Printing

By Heidi Trautmann….

ACPA/KKSD – Association of Cyprus Paper Artists Workshop for Cyanotype Printing in July 2023

Our association has continued to hold workshops to widen the knowledge and application of paper in the widest sense. For the recent workshop, our member Sofia Hadjipapa was suggesting to introduce to the members of our association the Cyanotype Printing Technique and demonstrate the various possibilities. She distributed a list of what utensils to bring with us. The list is available on our messenger site.

So, on 17 July 2023, we met at Fatma Özok’s Clay Art Studio in Nicosia and Sofia gave us an introduction to the background of this technique which we learned is nearly 180 years old and was developed by Sir John Hershel.

The first photo book, she explained was realized by a distant relative of his, Anna Atkins. I did some research on the internet and found some interesting links:



Sofia furthermore showed us some of her own artworks using this technique.

She talked about two basic ways of use:

  1. A) – to prepare a transparent sheet

1) the image for it is either prepared on the computer in Photoshop – sections: Image – Adjustment- Invert and then have the image printed on this transparent sheet by a printing shop

or: 2) by painting an image directly onto the transparent sheet with markers or any other utensil…

  1. B) to prepare a base sheet with either plants and flowers or other small cuttings or flat objects.

Sofia continued to explain the procedure …and I introduce here a text I found on the internet:

A cyanotype is a monochrome print or image made by placing objects on a pre-prepared light-sensitive surface.

As cyanotypes are created without a camera, the prints or images they create are correctly called ‘photograms’. The very name ‘cyanotype’ is derived from the Ancient Greek words for ‘dark blue’ and ‘mark/impression/type’.

The vast majority of cyanotype printing creates a negative photographic image on a dark blue surface – the light-sensitive surface is exposed to the sun to ‘develop’, capturing the shadow of the objects placed on the surface, creating a stencil-style image.

This precursor to modern photography was discovered in 1842 by Sir John Hershel and was quickly adopted and experimented with by various artists. This photoreactive process was also used in the early period of reprography, most notably for blueprints. As cyanotypes create a negative image once exposed and fixed, the original technical drawing would be reproduced as white lines on a blue background – hence how they got the name of blueprints.

Sofia showed us the chemicals used:

The light-sensitive surface is created by applying a solution made from Potassium Ferricyanide – (red iron salt) used with Ferric Ammonium Citrate (a light-sensitive iron salt). It is mixed exactly at the same amount each and poured into a flat container.

She now prepared a water colour paper and used the A4 transparent form to line out a frame with a pencil; with a soft painting foam she applied the well-mixed yellow solution she had prepared into the frame space and put it aside to dry.

All members now prepared their own working space with the watercolour paper on a board and drawing the frame on it and applying the yellow solution as shown.

Now Sofia invited everyone out into the garden to find some plants and blossoms; one member had a special project of her own: tiny buttons; another one had ready images on the transparent sheets.

The creative process of composing and decorating the given yellow frame space began. It was fascinating to watch them all. There was Ismet Tatar who had already her own profound experience with this technique but on another technical level. We have all visited her exhibition recently at Rüstem’s Bookstore.

The images developed and were now being covered with a glass plate and fixed to the bottom board with clamps. The first images were carried out into the garden where the sun was fully present. There the works were put on the floor and we all waited for the natural printing process to work and it showed in changing colour from yellow to olive green, that was the sign, it was ready, any longer exposure to the sun would influence the result.

Inside the studio again, the paper was taken off the board, the decoration removed, and the paper immersed fully in cold water and shaken until the design appeared as negative: white became blue and all objects appeared in white, a second freshwater bath, and a third water bath with an addition of a cap full of peroxide to intensify the Blue.

Ahhs and Ohhs, we were all surprised and the excitement made all members rush to do some more images. Just imagine, using the sun power to make our own prints, and we took them all out and hung them on a washing line for inspection. I was kept busy photographing all the steps and final results.

The technique can also be applied on material, and one example was done but I am not quite sure about fixation.

It is unbelievable that only two hours had passed and we were able to see a washing line exhibition of beautiful artworks; the members were obviously very proud and anxious, I thought, to go home and continue planning to do some more experimenting with this fantastic technique.

Fatma Özok, thank you very much for opening your studio for the workshop and at the end for spoiling us with homemade cake and lemonade.

Eser Kececi, our President, thanked Sofia on behalf of us all, and with great pleasure, we heard that there will be a continuation of learning more about this technique… Thank you Sofia…

I will now add some more samples of works, sun-supported prints, blue prints. I think it calls for continuation and experimenting…..

To see more pictures please visit my Facebook page

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