Today's spring-inspired guest post hails from Yellow Owl Workshop.
"I could tell you I adore the bright daffodils peeking through the black soil, sloughing off heavy sweaters and eating asparagus anything, but I really love spring for three things: Whoppers Robins Egg malt balls, the excuse to start happy hour before sundown, and cyanotype printing. Cyanotypes or “sun prints” take advantage of the increasing daylight hours because they use sunshine as your printmaking buddy.
Cyanotype printing is essentially printing with shadows. We use black paint to create dark letter shapes that block the sunlight from hitting the scarf. Letters we paint will appear as white on the scarf because the blue sensitizer cannot turn blue because of the letter shadow. Exposure times will vary according to geographical location, season, and time of day, usually from eight to 30 minutes. I exposed this in San Francisco on March 16 for 15 minutes on an overcast day. Fabric samples are really cheap if you want to test exposure for a certain hue of blue, but I usually just wait about 15 minutes and enjoy the result.
Unlike traditional print photography development, there is no need for a real “darkroom.” The cyanotype sensitizer is not nearly as light sensitive, so any room lit ONLY with regular lightbulbs (not fluorescent or CFL bulbs!) will be fine. We call this the “dim room.” You will also need a “light room.” This is an outdoor space large enough for the fabric to lay flat outside without intruding shadows. If you are a city dweller, be prepared to guard your “light room” from canines, humans, and other objects that could cast dark shadows over your project on the sidewalk. Physically and metaphorically! Best to expose when the sun is high in the sky (fewer shadows) with no rain or fog because moisture stops exposure. Overcast skies may increase exposure times but will still get the job done!
(For full instructions and extra tips, click here.)
All right! With one of my rites of spring complete, I have to run by the big drugstore for some pastel candy and then I'm off for a drink to complete my post-winter, pre-summer trifecta. Unfortunately one winter staple, the heavy sweaters, have to remain unstowed. Because of the bizarrely frigid summers of San Francisco, I know I will have to pull out my heavy knit sweaters in July. At least then I can give my threads a fresh look with my spring scarf!"