Still working a lot, very busy in the studio. I’ve just started some gum bichromate printing, but the first results aren’t worth discussing, so I’ll save it for another post. I’ve made several Van Dyke brown and cyanotype prints over the past week, and I’ll post some of those in a few days.
I read in a book that you can achieve a dark gray tone by printing a Van Dyke brown image on top of an underexposed cyanotype. You have to do the cyanotype first-if you do the Van Dyke brown as the first layer, the cyanotype sensitizer will bleach away the Van Dyke brown image.
I decided to try it. The first thing I did was presoak the paper I was going to print on. Papers, even the high quality ones I’ve been using, will shrink a little once they’ve been wet and allowed to dry. The image of course shrinks as well, meaning that when you go to print the second layer, you will not be able to achieve proper registration.
I used the negative I made for the first image in the last post, and did a cyanotype print at a 6 minute exposure, rather than the usual 12 minutes. When the cyanotype dried, I coated Van Dyke brown over it, and did a full exposure. Here’s what I got.
As you can see, I didn’t get the dark gray tones. It’s kind of interesting, but not what I expected.
I tried another one. This time, I used this print, Which I thought had printed a little splotchy. The cyanotype was printed at full exposure, and I hadn’t preshrunk the paper, so I knew the negative registration would be little off. What I didn’t expect was this.
The resulting image has a strong split toned look. Dark areas remain solidly blue, while lighter tones have a gray-brown color. The registration is of course off, giving a slight bas-relief look. There are also what look like brush strokes all over the print, which I’m guessing are from the application of Van Dyke brown sensitizer. I have to admit it’s pretty cool, and I like the look of the piece, even if I’m not going to exhibit it.
Looking back at the first print I made like this, I can now see the same split-toned effect. That image isn’t nearly as crisp or high contrast as the McDonalds panorama, so the colors seem to combine more.
While interesting, I don’t plan on continuing with combining these two processes. The unpredictability is appealing, but I want to focus more on gum bichromate printing, which will take a lot of time and energy to work out.
I’ve also played a bit more with toning cyanotype prints, which I previously wrote about here. I mixed up a new batch of tannic acid, and toned some old test prints. Nothing to great to report. Results were a little better than the last time I tried it, but still not terribly thrilling.
I did get one really good toned print.
The original, untoned cyanotype can be seen here. I soaked the print in sodium carbonate first, but either pulled it out too soon, or the chemistry had gone bad, as I didn’t see too much change. I stuck it in the tannic acid, and not much happened. So, I stuck the print into some highly diluted Dektol developer, then back into the tannic acid. The result is the deep violet with grayish highlights you se here. I love it, it works really well with that image.