I have participated in the Brooklyn Art Museum’s Sketchbook Project for six years now. Meadow participated in the first four years of sketchbooks, so she has four and I have six that you can check out if you visit the library! You can visit the library in Williamsburg any day, it is free and totally amazing! When you are there you can check out our past sketchbooks by asking for Phyllis Meredith or Meadow Rain. The place is seriously floor to ceiling with beautiful sketchbooks from all over the world! There are a few photos at the bottom of this post from drop off last year.
This year the base of my sketchbook will be made of the cyanotype images I have been working on for the past month or so. I plan to draw, paint and collage over the images, but before I do that I wanted to document them as they are before I hand sew and deconstruct them. There will be another post with the finished images once I am done.
A cyanotype is a photographic printing process that produces a Prussian 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. You can read more about the cyanotype process here.
To create these cyanotype images I first mix two chemicals together in the dark. I then paint the chemical mixture onto Arches 140-pound cold press watercolor paper. The paper is then left to dry in the dark for about 15-24 hours.
Once the paper is dry, I take one sheet out at a time, then I arrange my image. I mostly use nature; feathers, leaves, pressed flowers and vintage lace, and black and white film negatives. Sometimes I combine things, but it’s best if all of the items to be made into cyanotypes are the same thickness.
I then sandwich the paper and items under glass and bring the whole thing outside. They are left in the sun to develop for any time between ten minutes to a few hours, depending on the amount of sunlight available.
Finally, the paper is removed from the glass and washed in cold water until the parts exposed to the sun are a beautiful blue, and the parts not exposed are white, or a lighter blue.
I am glad to have these pristine images to remember these cyanotypes. I will be sure to post the book once I am finished. This year I am going to attempt to sew single sheets together into a book using coptic binding. Wish me luck, it looks really difficult! Want to sew along… There are a lot of great tutorials!
Last year my Sketchbook Project sketchbook incorporated a few pages of cyanotypes, I decided last year to make my whole book of them this year. I probably have blog posts from all my five other years if you want to dig around in my blog archives.