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what are cyanotypes and how do they work?

In a nut shell, cyanotypes are the original “blue print” and also known as “sun prints”. An iron-compound emulsion is painted on to a porous surface (i.e. paper), which when exposed to UV light turns a rich Prussian blue. If anything blocks the UV rays from hitting the paper this is ‘protected’, so that when you wash the emulsion out it remains white. You end up with striking blue and white prints. 

It is dubbed as 'alternative photography' in so much as it is not seen as a traditional photographic process - certainly nowadays where we rely heavily on digital cameras and digitally imagery. 

Short & Few's definition of a cyanotype is "a blue and white light drawing":

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This PDF is Short & Few's Cyanotype Information, Instruction and Guidance Booklet. It tells you everything you need to know to get started with the cyanotype process: a bit of history, the process of making them, tips and tricks, and some creative ideas to play with when having a go yourself.

examples of the process and outcomes:

Discover the process at your own pace in your own space

I will always remember running a workshop and someone gasping "it's like magic!" when we were washing the papers and the image was beginning to reveal itself. It's a totally safe, simple and effective process that is an interesting balance between science and art (sorry - it isn't actually magic.)

That's how the Cyanotype Project Pack came about - everything you need (regardless of age or ability) to discover the cyanotype process for yourself or with your friends and family. 

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In your Cyanotype Project Pack is everything you need to get started with the process of 'sun printing'. 

  • 10 pre-coated papers in a light-proof bag measuring approx. 12.5cm X 17.5cm (the paper is 50% cotton which means it won't disintegrate and will flatten again nicely once washed)

  • instruction booklet (a physical copy of the PDF above) with guidance, history and tips

  • acrylic contact sheet

  • instructions for making a test strip

  • acetate and Sharpie for drawing your own designs

  • a notebook for keeping records

  • a pair of latex-free gloves

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