Cyanotype – In the footsteps of Anna Atkins

Sunny day today! Preparing a workshop on cyanotype printing. So out into the garden.

The idea to print plants by the cyanotype process dates back to the 19th century when Anna Atkins published the first ever book with photographic reproductions of plants (Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions).

Yesterday I sensitized some paper with the cyanotype mixture  (J. M. Eder: Rezepte, Tabellen und Arbeitsvorschriften für Photographie und Reproduktionstechnik, Verlag von Wilhem Knapp, Halle (Saale), 1942, 18.-19. Auflage, p.225) and had it to dry overnight.



Today picked up some plants (there are plenty) and put them under glass to press them firmly onto the paper for good contact in order to have clear contours. Five minutes exposure were sufficient to get some results.


Next step: wash out the unused chemicals (more or less 20 minutes).P1000150-w.jpg




As I wasn’t happy with the colour I added some hydrogen peroxide (10% solution to the water.)






Now the very last step: let it dry.




More on cyanotype:


  • Ammonium iron(III) citrate (‘green’ variety) (important: iron(III), green)
  • Potassium ferricyanide (important: ferri not ferro) –> [Red Prussiate of Potash, rotes Blutlaugensalz, ferricyanure de potassium]


Summerakademie 2014

Printmaking course with André Michalek at this year’s Summerakademie.
Starting point is a picture taken by my son or by me (Who was it? I can’t remember as we shared the same camera) at the Völklinger Hütte.


Fooling around:

How does it look like if it would be a coffee toned cyanotype?


And if it would be a polymer plate printed in relief?


And now the very first prints of 2 weeks:

The dry point on perspex version, trying to point to the regular structure of working environment:


and the etching with aquatinta version, adding blacks and grays:



Everything started with a joke made by my medical doctor: “You know what is common to a smoker and the Müllertal (touristic region in Luxembourg)? Be(e)fort.”

Befort is a small town with a nice castle and a famous liquor made from blackcurrant.

Beefort means “Leg gone” (amputeted).

Inspired by an old postcard saying “Best greetings from the Müllertal” I changed to “Best greetings from smoker valley”. Writing in Sütterlin handwriting.



Some more images (mixed media: cyanotype, stamping, drawing, use of CT) by the same subject.

New fun!


Experimenting with cyanotypes. Recipes from an old book I bought as a secondary schoolboy:

J. M. Eder: Rezepte, Tabellen und Arbeitsvorschriften für Photographie und Reproduktionstechnik, Verlag von Wilhem Knapp, Halle (Saale), 1942, 18.-19. Auflage.

A book full of funny stuff!!


cyano, bleached in NaOH, toned in coffee

image from CT negative

More old techniques: cliché-verre


cyano, bleached in NaOH, toned in coffee

A combined print from CT negative and transparent from positive photo of letterpress metal furniture. Same technique.


Similar, but bleached with Na2CO3:



More, this time cliché-verre and CT: