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Make Your Own Cyanotype Art

Updated: Aug 19

Create a unique cyanotype art using drypoint plate and india ink. Below is my process of experimenting using different tools to find the best way.

Cyanotype, is generally known as a photographic process, and when you google it, you are shown lots of images of plants and other existing shapes transposed onto paper. It did not occur to me that I could print my own artwork with cyanotype.


Here is how cyanotype works and how to get started.


When I was developing printmaking classes for kids, the idea occurred to me that if I drew on a clear plastic, then print it, it may print. So I did my first experiment by drawing on a clear plastic sheet with sharpie... and it worked! But I noticed that the light seemed to have still come through the marker.


I tried to print the above image second time, but it did not print, for reasons unknown to me. Also, for someone trying to reduce the use of plastic, this method is not ideal as the plastic cannot be reused.


But I have a lot of true cellophane which is biodegradable. I would not put it into a compost bin once any ink is on it, but it's better than using plastic, I thought. So I used waterproof fine liners. It started fine, but as I drew, I noticed the cellophane warping and rippling.


Still I tried to print this, for experiment sake. This is the result.

Cyanotype of the far side of the moon drawn on cellophane and printed. It shows ripples of the cellophane and did not print clearly.
Cyanotype made with cellophane

Wait, I have clear drypoint plastic plates! These plates are very cheap, at AU$1.65 for 190 x 250 mm https://www.mes.net.au/product-group/5173-plastic-plates/category/588-etching-plates But, the fine liners nor sharpie would stay on the plates. So I got out my india ink https://amzn.to/3K56etW and bamboo skewers, and started dotting. Turns out that my little drawing fountain pen works fine. Of course, if I wasn't doing the tedious dot drawing, brush and ink would work as well.


And here is the result.

Cyanotype 0008 The Far Side by Megumi Watanabe
Cyanotype 0008 The Far Side by Megumi

Great thing about india ink on plastic plate is that it wipes off with water. So if you are doing editions, you have to be careful how to handle the plate, but when you are done with it, you can wipe clean and start another artwork. No waste!


Above print was submitted for Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts Compact Prints 2022 which will be exhibited from 26 August to 2 October 2022. Keep your eyes open for tour dates to see these little prints in person. These are all very small (12 x 12 cm) and affordable. My editions will be available soon.


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