Fun With the Sun

Cyanotypes, which are actually photographs, are yet another way to create designs on fabric. A cyanotype “is a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print. Engineers used the process well into the 20th century as a simple and low-cost process to produce copies of drawings, referred to as blueprints. The process uses two chemicals: ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide.”

You can coat fabric with those chemicals yourself or you can buy fabric already coated. After that, the process is the same. You choose materials you want to photograph and lay them on the treated fabric.

Then, you cover them with glass or some other clear object to hold the materials in place and expose the fabric to the sun for 10 to 15 minutes.

After you bring the fabric inside you remove the materials and rinse the fabric in water. Then you admire your results.

I had bought a packet of assorted color pretreated cyanotype fabric squares with a gift certificate from Dharma Trading, and was waiting for sunshine and warm weather. When those events aligned I set up my work area on the roof of my screen porch.  Why the roof? Because I can access it through a door from my bedroom. I suppose the people we bought our house from had visions of night star gazing, but it’s three stories up from the driveway and the railing isn’t very high. Also, wasps love to build nests on the railing. So I was happy to find a use for that roof.

I was pleased with my results, and have found many breathtaking examples of this technique online. How about this delicate piece by Linda Sterner?

I have no idea what I’ll make with my crocheted pieces, but I still have eight more treated fabric squares to play with.




Filed under Fabric Printing, Techniques

17 responses to “Fun With the Sun

  1. Wow! So much inspirations in this post and technique. I bet scanning the pieces and manipulating them in Photoshop could render some amazing results, then go to Spoonflower, have fabric made, and… I better stop!

  2. Rosemaryflower

    I love the lace images. So beautiful
    Did you crochet those pieces? My momma used to make incredible lace, a technique she learned in Belgium.
    I miss her. I have a lot of her lace. I wish I had her… she went to Heaven at age 93 years
    I love this project and it was nice to experiment and share❤️

  3. WOW. I have some ink and fabric like this and haven’t yet tried it. BUT now I’m inspired thanks to you.

  4. Judith K Campbell

    This might be a fun experiment for our art quilt getaway!

  5. We did this in GirlScouts, but the result was notso artistic 😉

  6. Wow, there are so many fun things to do with textiles! I love it!

  7. Cool! And can I tell you how much I hope your example, using old doilies, goes viral and creates a huge demand for vintage linens? I have untold numbers of doilies I would be thrilled to find a home for!

  8. Your lace pieces are glorious. I’ve seen the fabric packets in the catalog but not felt compelled to try them. Now I can see that some day they will be exactly the thing I need for a project.

    • I wouldn’t have done this if I hadn’t had the gift certificate as the packets aren’t cheap. But I wouldn’t have coated fabric myself as I’m a klutz about such undertakings.

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