art + science = great gifts!

Once again, in my quest for keeping the gifting aspect of Christmas in perspective, we are opting to make many of our Christmas gifts this year. This is equal parts frugality and sentimentality – there is something so precious to me about handmade items – and when the process of making the gifts is both fun and educational  what could be better??

Over the weekend the kids and I started on our first project: cyanotype photograms.



The process is so easy! You can purchase pre-sensitized cyanotype paper or cloth from museum gift shops or from several online retailers. (I ordered precut squares from Blue Sun Prints.) Any object can be placed on top of the paper/cloth and exposed to sunlight for approximately 15 minutes. Opaque objects will produce a silhouette effect while objects with some translucency will create varying tones. The kids were able to watch the cloth change color throughout the 15 minute exposure, changing from yellowish green to  beautiful shades of cyan blue. When time was up we rinsed the sheets under cold water and were done!

I love the way the sheets look drying on my clothesline! The varied tones of blue were created by different exposure times – the darker ones were done for 15 minutes in direct sunlight while the lighter ones were either shorter exposure times or when the sun was not as intense. There is a definite aspect of chance in how these images turn out, but that is part of the fun of it!

Raymond built these simple wooden frames which I painted white – I think they work perfectly with the photograms! Totally gift ready!

Before we began we looked at the iconic cyanotypes of Anna Atkins from the 1840’s when the process was first developed and photography was in its infancy. They are stunningly beautiful. Ours may not quite measure up to those of Anna Atkins, but the children enjoyed the process of creating the images totally on their own, and the surprise of watching the photograms develop. I think we will have to revisit this process in the spring when there are more flowers and plants to print!

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2 responses to “art + science = great gifts!

  1. Camille and I did the same thing a few weeks ago! The one additional technique we tried was using a black sharpie to draw on clear acetate and placing the film over the photo paper. Instant prints of her artwork!

    • Great minds think alike, Lee! I LOVE the idea of drawing on acetate. We still have a few more sheets so we’re going to have to give that a try. Thanks for the inspiration!!

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