Friday, April 13, 2012

Inkotype or Fauxgram?

Cyanotype on cotton
Simple cyanotype on cotton fabric
The few times I have been able to play with cyanotypes out in the sun or photograms in the darkroom, I have fallen in love with their whispy ethereal nature. With summer fast approaching, I have been thinking about playing with cyanotypes again and of course encaustics aren't far from my mind right now either.  I've started to wonder what cyanotypes on very thin paper would look like when coated in wax, which should make the white areas fairly transparent.  Well, I don't have the chemicals yet to try out this idea so I started thinking up ways to fake it with what I have on hand.  I decided to try out using cyan colored ink in a spray bottle to make something that would look a little like a photogram.  I tested mulberry rice paper with little white fibers and lace paper with lots of Swiss cheese holes.  The mulberry rice paper left a crisper impression and soaked up less ink.  The lace paper ended up with a more organic look because it was much more absorbant.  For my purposes, the mulberry paper looks more like a cyanotype.

Cyan ink photogram on mulberry paper
I wanted a very busy background to take advantage of the transparency of the paper, so I used a marker to doodle all over an 8x10 masonite board that I had coated last week with encaustic gesso.  (You can't use acrylic gesso with encaustics.  They don't provide enough tooth.)
Doodle madness
I layered a couple of coats of medium on the doodle board.  Then I collaged down my mulberry paper with more clear medium.  This paper may be thin but it put up a good fight.  I ended up scraping off some excessive hills of medium and smoothed everything out with the iron.  Then I added white encaustic paint to the boarders.  Here's stage 2 of my faux cyanotype experiment:
Now here's the part where I get to learn a little more about patience - sigh.  It needs to cool down quite a bit before I can do anything else to it.  But as you can see the translucent part worked well.  The doodling can be easily seen through the flowers. 

After letting it rest for a bit, I used a metal stamp to add some more lines in the white at the top and bottom of the white border.  Then I came back in and applied some Prussian Blue oil paint as a glaze to knock back the bright white a bit. 

It's at that point where I've looked at it for too long and can't quite decide if I'm done.  This piece will go up on the shelf for some rumination time.


  1. Neato! I like the transparency. Ironically, I was also thinking about combining encaustic and cyanotype, as I might be taking a workshop in a few weeks. If I do I'll post my results (on my blog)! Did you decide if yours is finished?

    1. I can't wait to see the results Erin! I think it's defintely not done so I'm waiting for the creative muse to grace me with an idea of how to finish it. The stark white needs more - maybe that's what's bugging me.