Susan & Mari: friends who collage January 02 2024

Susan Hartman:

Mari and I have different stories about what we do with our creative grist. I credit Mari for getting me rolling with projects. We inspire one another regularly with new ideas. In 2020 cancer loomed - leading me to an "early retirement" and prompting a new perspective. "By 2022, my treatment was finished, and my life changed." I became a support to other survivors through a website capturing personal stories with helpful resources. Mari introduced me to Wellness Coins, coins with inspirational messaging, which I left at my cancer center in Providence, RI gifting to others. In the past year, I've made over 250 pieces, branching into creating journals and items using similar creative collaging and Paper Connection's *Pastiche collection of paper samples. I include additional material transfers from my garden plantings. Sometimes my pieces become large compilations which I break into other imagery. Any leftover scraps become something else with no waste of materials or resources. Mari is a super clever person and does amazing work. She offered the first light of encouragement during a time of uncertainty.

"We are a great support to each other on our separate and unique journeys."

Mari Ryan:

My creative journey has had many starts and stops.

In 2003 I picked up photography, which has remained my primary creative outlet. By 2019 I started attending a monthly creative networking group, learning collage. I was smitten with collecting paper and playing with a variety of techniques. When the pandemic hit, I knew I had fostered the perfect hobby. Since then, I have expanded my interests including mixed media and watercolor. 2021 brought a new home allowing space for an art studio. I knew this to be a key as I worked less and created more.

"My art certainly is therapeutic for everyday life and the friendship with Susan is so valuable."

*note from Paper Connection: although the Paper Pastiche monthly subsription pack has been halted for now, we are making "Odds & Ends" collage packs described in our recent blog post: Way to Play.

Way to Play January 02 2024

For explorers of artisan papers, we offer sampler sizes so you can experience color, weight, fold, cut, and sculpt capabilities without big-size paper commitments. Once you find your next love, you can go all out!collage packs

Jane’s Odds & Ends 1oz
Thank you, Jane, for nurturing these sweeties. Our 1-ounce bags are purely delicious. Unique papers to inspire art/craft/design. Buy anytime. Don’t think you’ll find two packets identical! How exciting is that! Get more details on our shop site below. And find our new addtition to our collage line up, the 2-ounce pack!
Jane’s Odds & Ends 2oz

Let us know what you think. We love hearing from you!

(click image below to see our little Instagram reel-video showing the "making of odds & ends).

A Conversation with Lisa Goddard July 13 2023

Enjoy our conversation with artist Lisa (Elizabeth) Goddard, as she describes her reckoning through creating.

PC: How would you define your artwork, technique, and paper application?

LG: I am a printmaker, painter, and in recent years a quilt-maker. My main printmaking processes are woodcut, etching, and monotype. Through Paper Connection, I was introduced to the Korean paper-felting technique, joomchi, which was a perfect fit for a recent exhibition for the Mark Twain House & Museum of the Printmakers’ Network of Southern New England from March 2022-January 2023.

PC: Are you willing to share insights into your process and current projects?

LG: I admit to being a Yankee, so I hate to waste anything! I began to create paper quilts in order to reuse or recycle parts of woodcut prints that were beautiful, although they had defects that would prohibit them from being part of an edition of prints. By cutting these prints into pattern sections, I have been able to develop a new format for my art.
Using Joomchi
Uncomfortable Quilt
As it turns out, the choice of quilt patterns, and the stitches I have used, strengthen the meaning of the imagery. A perfect example is my quilt for the Mark Twain exhibit called “Uncomfortable Quilt”. I selected the log cabin pattern to be in keeping with the time of Huckleberry Finn, one of my central characters in the quilt. Huck wrestled with the dilemma of whether to turn Jim in as a runaway slave, something his upbringing in a small Missouri town mandated, or to help Jim to freedom as he recognized Jim’s humanity. I felt that Huck’s awakening matched my own as I faced the violence so many African American citizens face at the hands of police. The other individuals represented in my quilt are George Floyd, Freddie Gray, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown, who all were brutally killed by police. As I was stitching the quilt, I realized that the stitches used were consistent with the themes of slavery and freedom as well as our contemporary issue of unjust use of force and the death of African Americans. Serendipity - or subconscious thought - must have guided me to choose the running stitch, the chain stitch, and the whip stitch, which are pretty typical embroidery stitches.
Uncomfortable Quilt
Whip Stitch Detail
When I was halfway through sewing the quilt together, I realized the connection between subject matter and method. I can tell you, the hair stood up on the back of my neck!

PC: Why do you create? What is the meaning behind your work?

LG: I have always felt compelled to share my human story and to listen and absorb the stories of others. I believe that the arts make us more human. The arts create empathy and understanding among people all over the world, including from past to present lives. I create with the hope that my stories will resonate with people today and in the future.

PC: What influences inspire you and why?

LG: Life in all its beauty inspires me. I feel part of a vast existence of which I am a minuscule part. This helps me to appreciate my insignificance and to feel immense gratitude for the life I have. I hope to inspire my viewers to feel reverence for our world and our shared existence and to pass it forward.

"I realized the connection between subject matter and method. I can tell you, the hair stood up on the back of my neck!"

PC: How did your creative journey bring you to this place?

LG: As part of the Printmakers’ Network of Southern New England, I enjoy the group projects we do. Having been a museum director until 2015, I knew the executive director of the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, CT. I proposed a project idea to the printmakers and then took it with their blessing to the museum. The result was the exhibit called “The Evocative Mark Twain Inspires the Printmakers’ Network of Southern New England.” The printmakers each chose an authentic quote(s) by Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and created their own art to reflect their response to the quote. My quote from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn reflected his struggle with slavery which paralleled my own struggle with the police killings of African American citizens.
Text for Unforgettable Quilt
For my own piece, I wrote the following wall text:
George Floyd
“After George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis in 2020, I experienced an awakening not unlike Huck’s in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I was listening to former RNC chairman Michael Steele as he described “The Conversation” that Black parents have with their children about what to do and say when confronted by the police. Startled, I realized that I had never had this talk with my parents. I had not had this talk with my children. Being white, no one needed to warn me about the danger of being stopped by police. After all, they were good, weren’t they? Maybe not so much… So began my journey as an artist, producing etchings of George Floyd, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner. Ultimately, producing etchings from these drawings caused me to feel their humanity deeply and to mourn them.”

PC: Do you ever feel stagnant? If so, how do you break through?

LG: Of course, I have moments of stagnation. Sometimes I find cleaning up my flat files and studio space helps to jump-start me. Sometimes I am renewed by challenging myself to do 100 abstract monotypes, as I did when I retired from my position as Executive Director of the Newport Art Museum. Sometimes, it is just doing some work that is terrible and just pushing through with elbow grease that unlocks my creativity.

PC: Can you describe the importance of paper (or other mediums) in your work, what type of paper (medium) do you use most, and why?

LG: Paper comes from trees. So does the wood I use for woodcuts. There is a connection I feel with the natural world, particularly with trees, so I like to think there is a divine presence guiding me in working with paper. I do love the feel and the tones of Hahnemühle Copperplate. I also love natural papers such as Lotka from Nepal. I often draw in sketchbooks made of this paper. For the quilt, I used Hanji-(Korean) mulberry paper and Taja white cotton rag.

PC: Why this medium? Can you elaborate/reflect on your work and future forecasting?

LG: I studied printmaking when I was in college, but I was frustrated because the process took so long. I wanted the immediacy of painting. Then in my forties, I returned to printmaking and it was the complexity of the process and the mental dexterity needed to create multi-plate woodcuts and photopolymer etchings that kept me engaged and stimulated ever since. Sometimes life comes full circle.

PC: Are there papers from Paper Connection that you can speak about, provide insights, elaborations, process, and/or integrity of quality?

LG: When I visited Lauren at the Paper Connection in Providence, RI to purchase paper for the quilt, she introduced me to the luscious Korean felting paper called Hanji as well as to the technique of felting itself. This inspired me to try felting. It “felt” right to use in my quilt project. I was able to select shades of red and blue that had equal values as I created the log cabin pattern of dark to light squares. (red for blood and blue for police)

PC: Are there questions no one has asked concerning your creative process, philosophy, or recent experience you’d like to share?

LG: What would life be like if you stopped making art? Would you move to another medium of expression?

PC: Do you have any upcoming shows or installations in progress? If so, please provide info so we can direct our readers.

LG: I am included in a new exhibit of the Printmakers’ Network of Southern New England at the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Barnstable, MA. It runs from April 19-June 18, 2023.

PC: Thank you Lisa! especially for your candid description of your emotional and physical reactions while making the "Uncomfortable Quilt", made from paper.

It has been wonderful to learn about you and your work via your "conversations" with historical figures and influences.

To check out more about Lisa and her artwork, plus her current and past exhibit information, click on the link below.

Q&A with Susan Rossiter April 20 2023

The artist in her studio in front of Meandering in Yellow 48”x60” paint and paper assemblage

How would you define your artwork, technique, and paper application?

I make paint and paper assemblages inspired by colors, shapes, and patterns from the 1950s through the 1970s. Layering papers under and over paint creates a beautiful history and the closer you get, the more history you see - sometimes back to the very first layers.

Could you share insights into your process and current projects?

Retro Floral trio Small paint and paper assemblages on cradled wood panels
I’m very excited to be working on 20 small paint and paper assemblages right now. The final dimensions for each piece will be about 7 ½” or 19cm squares and they’ll hang in a grid together like a family. Some of the pieces will be 3 dimensional or sculptural. The trick will be to make them so they all get along together.

Why do you create? What is the meaning behind your work?

For me, making art is necessary; like eating and sleeping. If I have gone too long without creating, I become restless, agitated, and combative. Painting makes me happy and gives me those good brain chemicals.
Series of paint and paper assemblages in progress, becoming part of a group called Autumn Poetry

What influences inspire you and why?

I have a wonderful Aunt who has been sending me interesting things found on her travels since I was born. Tea towels, scarves, ornaments, decorative boxes, papers, postcards, and photos from all over the world were my biggest influence. I started researching some items and found textile designers from the 50s and 60s such as Jacqueline Groag and Lucienne Day. Their use of bold colors, patterns, and shapes stayed with me and started showing up in my paintings.

Can you describe the importance of paper in your work?

I have never been happy using only paint in my paintings- incorporating papers under and over paint creates a unique look you can’t achieve with paint alone. It gives the paintings texture and richness. People often ask me “How did you do that?!”
Retro Floral 12”x12” Paint and paper assemblage on wood panel

Are there papers from Paper Connection that you can speak about, provide insights, elaborations, process, and/or integrity of quality?

The inclusion papers, bark papers, and asarakusuishi are especially nice for creating texture under paint. The lotka papers are my favorite. I love collaging with them and love the colors in this series. I also use modern and traditional printmaking processes on the lotka and calligraphy papers to make my own unique collage elements. I keep a paper catalogue with samples and name/product numbers of each paper for reference in the event I need more. The catalogue also comes in handy when people ask what kind of paper I used in a particular piece.
Grey Meandering 4”x4” Paint and paper assemblage on wood panel

Do you ever get stuck?

YES. Getting stuck is just part of being an artist. It’s part of being a human really. I keep a list of things I can do depending on my mood. When conditions are ideal and I can bring my “A-game” I paint and plan, whatever I need to accomplish that day effortlessly. When I’m a little tired or distracted I do other things that will help conditions to be ideal the next day such as clean off a surface in my studio or set up the paint, papers, and substrates so it’s all ready for me to jump into action the next morning. It’s easy to get stuck if your studio is too cluttered and you have no place to work.
Close-up of: Meandering in Yellow 48”x60” Paint and paper assemblage on canvas
If I’m just not feeling it, sick, or stuck, I do something on this list depending on my energy level:
  • Print or paint papers for future use
  • Organize one bin or drawer
  • Go to a gallery, museum, paper or art supply store
  • Look at art books or magazines and make notes on color combinations or patterns for reference
  • Listen to or watch movies, videos, or podcasts about other artists (they all have their struggles)
To me, it’s essential to recognize it’s not the end of the world if you get stuck. It’s an opportunity to relax and refresh. There is something you can do at every level of mood and energy that will help make your next creating session successful. I encourage everyone to make their own lists, so you are ready when the low days come.
(So) Fetch 30”x30” Paint and paper assemblage on canvas

2023 is your year! What do you feel hopeful about with your practice?

As an artist educator for GOLDEN Paints and Silver Brush, I am provided with extensive training on artist products and tools. This year, I am creating some fun “how-to” videos so I can share my knowledge
The Sky is Falling 30”x30” Paint and paper assemblage, wood veneer on canvas

Do you have any upcoming shows or installations in progress?

I’m honored to be part of Studios on High Gallery in the city's energetic Short North Arts District (Columbus, Ohio). My work can be seen there year-round and as part of our member group shows in February, November, and December. I’ll also be in the gallery 2 or 3 days each month demonstrating many of my processes. Feel free to email me if you’re in the area and would like a gallery tour. In April and October, I’ll be teaching several workshops at the longest-running Mixed Media Artists Retreat in Portland, OR. It’s a wonderful retreat! Workshop descriptions are here:
Susan Rossiter Mid-Century no. 29 48”x48” Paint and paper assemblage on canvas
Close-up of Mid-Century Modern no.29
Example of paper texture under paint “Welcome Home” from the Vessels series. A paint/paper assemblage with silkworm cocoon and twigs on 5”x8” wood panel with ransom note signature

Do you have an online portfolio or another site where folks can view more of your work?

Follow Susan on Instagram Facebook: Current paintings can always be seen at Studios on High Gallery, Columbus, Ohio Susan’s website has examples of work, additional information about the artist, some smaller items for sale, and a workshop and event schedule. While you’re there-please sign up for her mailing list. She offers free demos and gatherings for subscribers and only sends a few emails each year. Thank you for sharing your great work, experience, and inner working insights, Susan.

Amy Trendler ❤️s Our Yuzen & Lokta Papers March 13 2023


I've been meaning to send photos of books I've made with paper from Paper Connection. These notebooks started for personal use (wavy lines green Laurelai Designs), and gifts to friends & family (yuzen blue waves & lokta white floral on lime). I recently started making books to sell (like your blue katazome - a hard one for me to part with, and the botanical lokta papers).

You'll recognize more from Paper Connection in my shop: I also wanted to send a "thank you" for making these papers available, including where they come from and what they are suited for. I enjoy mixing & matching designs, textures, and paper weights. I've been jokingly, telling people that I'm starting to make books to sell to support my love of acquiring decorative paper. Actually, there is a grain of truth to this humor!

Hanji is my next experiment and I'm thrilled to discover a great selection of Korean-made papers in your shop. I'll be placing another order soon! Thanks again for making all these amazing papers available. Best, Amy T

Editor's Note: Check out Amy's site to see more beautiful pieces using 100% recycled rag paper from India, amate, plus many beautiful combinations of textures and colors. Thank you, Amy!

Fabulously Flexible Hanji November 13 2022

beauty & texture

the delight of windswept edges

our papers help tell your story

How could hanji (Korean paper) be applied in your creative process?
Hanji is becoming a well-known handmade paper in the West. The base fiber is mulberry or dak, in Korean. Sometimes two fibers are mixed, like dak and samjidak, the Korean version of mitsumata or Edgeworthia chrysantha (part of the Thymelaeaceae family of plants). Paper Connection stocks varied weights and colors as part of our extensive inventory of mostly Eastern fine art papers. Depending on characteristics, these papers perform best within book and paper conservation, with others playing a leading role in printmaking, calligraphy, painting, and papercrafts, such as joomchi (paper felting) or jiseung (paper basketry). Home interiors including sliding doors, lanterns, clothing, fans, and heated flooring, are beautifully created, with hanji papers. Durable, smooth, breathable, and who can resist those deckled edges! We stock almost forty colors of hanji and several whites for specific fields and techniques. You can view current stock by clicking here: hanji. Be inspired! Hanji paper by Lee Sun – Future Materials Bank Hanji Meets the World ( Hanji In The House! ( Joomchi! Everybody’s talking about it! ( Artist of the Month: Bill Lorton ( Artist Julie Miller on Joomchi – Korean Paper Felting ( Meet PJ Bergin; Hanji’s Newest and Biggest Fan ( Multimedia Artist – Elisa Lanzi ( Painting & Calligraphy Paper Plunge ( Jeannine Mullan: Space, Layers & Chance ( Play Versus Purpose with A.I.R. Lisa Perez ( artist of the month printmaker Nichol Markowitz ( For my collage work and photo transfers I like to use colored hanji (Korean mulberry paper). - Nichol Markowitz

Curating WITH PAPER September 12 2022

I recently curated a gallery group exhibit gallery at Pawtucket Arts Collaborative. Show Title: WITH PAPER, A PAC Gallery Pop-up, showcased works by Bayda Asbridge, Suzi Ballenger, Justine Chang, and myself, Lauren Pearlman Sugita. All 4 participating artists work with paper in different ways with overlaps. The basis, of course, was how we all work with, live with, and communicate with paper.
Lauren Pearlman Sugita, couching, SMFA
handmade paper A Book of Spinach & Feta
handmade flax paper Mollusks from Mars
handmade cotton paper, Laurelai Designs Woven Vines
Putting together such a quick turn-around event like this, definitely challenged my "juggling" skills. I was super-focused and in an abbreviated amount of time, it came together! The collaboration afforded me the opportunity to connect and deepen relationships with three super-talented artists, mainly by spending intimate time with their work. It was interesting for me that the act of curation, allowed me to know each one in a new way (including myself!). As I continually seek community, the experience provided a new path for connectivity and bonds. As WITH PAPER, the gallery show, assembled in just a few days, a "community" was formed. Those connections were the most rewarding gift of WITH PAPER. I requested each of the other 3 artists to send in a comment subsequent to the show.
Bayda Asbridge mixed media Our Village
BAYDA ASBRIDGE writes: I was invited by Lauren Pearlman Sugita from Paper Connection to participate in this pop-up exhibit WITH PAPER at the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative. It was short notice but still, Lauren worked extremely hard to put a very professional show together with our group while maintaining her business during the day. I was incredibly grateful to be invited and to be part of this beautiful exhibit because it gave me a deadline to finish a paper tapestry "San Diego on My Mind", an opportunity to bond with other artists, and the opportunity to reach a wider audience.
Bayda Asbridge mixed media fiber, paper, weaving San Diego on My Mind
Bayda Asbridge mixed media fiber, paper, weaving Blue Lagoon by Bayda Asbridge
SUZI BALLENGER writes: Thank you Lauren for your curatorial wisdom and vision. WITH PAPER became an opportunity to work through my thoughts on the series “To Be of Use”. These works reflect on the interconnection of vitality/detritus, growth/sediment, and need/sacrifice, an exciting exploration worth further investigation. Meeting the other artists was an honor. The work chosen for this exhibit made me feel like I was part of a common understanding and passion.
Suzi Ballenger handmade paper, onion skin To Be of Use
Suzi Ballenger handmade abaca paper, reed, porcupine quills I realized I was the one who was trapped. I just couldn’t swallow another fly!
Suzi Ballenger handmade abaca, hemp Suggestive Freedoms
JUSTINE CHANG writes: The show came together beautifully, and I was honored to be a part. As someone who is new to handmade paper, I’ve been constantly surprised by the generosity of other artists working with paper, including Lauren, Suzi, and Bayda. It was such a meaningful experience, to meet the artists, and to see the response of people who came to view the work. All of this confirms for me, that working with paper is an important way to reconnect with my body, my heritage, and nature.
Justine Chang photography on Korean paper. hanji Series: Margins
Justine Chang photography on Korean paper. hanji Series: Margins

Experimental Cyanotypes on Washi September 09 2022

cyanotypes on washiArtist Sarah Dunn writes on papers for cyanotype: "Generally when looking for papers to create cyanotypes, I traditionally want to find something with good absorbency and light in color. Papers with internal sizing, or sizing on one side will accept cyanotype chemistry with little to no bleeding. Choosing paper naturally light in color will allow for stronger contrast between the Prussian blue of the Cyanotype ground and the white silhouettes. You also want to ensure that whatever sheet you choose is strong enough to withstand agitation in a water bath."wet cyanotype, contrase Some Japanese papers or "washi" tested out for Experimental (wet and dry) Cyanotypes on Washi workshop, July 2022 at Paper Connection in Providence, RI: Kozo White Heavyweight G-0001 was made explicitly for inkjet printing, meaning this sheet has a coated surface for holding detailed printed ink on its surface, yet its absorbency should be even. Paper Connection carries a whole series of these "inkjet" papers in a series coded with "G." Kozo White Heavyweight G-0001's pure white tone provides a striking contrast to the blue of the cyanotype print. This washi is made mainly from the very strong Kozo (paper mulberry) fiber, it's heavyweight and able to withstand agitation, moreover, you can leave it for quite a long time developing in a water bath. Other papers tested were: Kozo Natural Medium Weight M-0202, Mistumata Unryu Heavyweight G-0006, Green Tea Flecks on Green G-0016, Masa Soft White I-MM - Unlike the other 4 papers above, Masa Soft White I-MM is not made with any sizing at all. Unusual and textured washi tested were: Kinwashi M-0268 - This paper was difficult to evenly chemically coat due to the irregular and uneven surface. The irregular coating could be considered a negative or positive, so experiment; enjoy the unexpected outcomes! You may also experience uneven "washout" when you have unevenly coated paper. Heavy White Crepe I-SDW was very textured but lost its "crepe-ness" with a wet coating; the texture also yielded an uneven coat. Again, this could be a pro or con depending on the effect you are going for. A few DIY tips: if you are doing this process outside using the sun's power, prepare medium-weight, folded, clear acetate or 2 pieces of Plexiglass to "sandwich" your work while it develops under the sun. You can also use stones and rocks for weights, however, they are a bit awkward to carry from spot to spot. You can leave your clear "sandwich" on the ground while it develops, avoiding movement. We still recommend having weights like stones in case the wind picks up! They are very handy! agitating, washing paper workshops, Providence, cyanotypes, solar prints, Paper Connection Please join our mailing list and watch for future, paper arts workshops. We want you to be part of our COMMUNITY OF PAPER PEOPLE!

September's Pastiche-Subscription Sampler September 01 2022

With a hint of cooler days to come, our September Pastiche will warm you with some rich, jewel-toned papers. This is our third month of Pastiche and moving full steam ahead. These fallish colors and textures are sure to get your creative juices thrumming! September Pastiche includes a bit of Lokta paper: Off- White Floral on Kelly Green, Woodblock Hands, Turquoise, and Woodblock Quatrefoil. Prints and solids at the ready. We've talked about Lokta and the bush's strong, silky fibers, and its leadership as a main source of fiber for local papermakers of Nepal. Don't forget about its characteristics of smooth-surfaced, ideal for book arts, printing, card making, collage, box making, sewing, and interior design projects. You can check out our complete Lokta family of papers here. We've got a 100% Rayon Red in the bunch. Very fabric-like which lends itself to sewing, laser printers, invitations, cards, graphics, etc. Acid-free and quiet (no-noise paper). Check out the entire Rayon Family here. Japanese Lace Asanoha is from the classic hemp leaf and comes in six colors. Delicate-looking pattern, excellent for collages and many crafts/applications. Oh yes! Katazome! Traditional designs are reminiscent of Southeast Asian batiks. These are opaque patterned papers great for book covers, end sheets, boxes, graphic design, framing, origami, and mixed media projects. Katazome, or Sarasa paper is decorated with a combo of stenciling and resist dyeing. It's laborious but the results are so lovely. See for yourself. Last, but never at the end of the line is An-Jing Lucy Yellow-Tan, the fun and funky family member of our An-Jing paper collection handmade mainly from xuan ("shwen") fiber. Typically these papers are lightweight and ideal for brush painting, and collage. They are and a bit dainty to work with, so consider the challenges in using them for printing; good for hand-printing (gently apply inked block to paper- or paper to inked block- press by hand.) You can check out the entire family here.
More to Come!
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Cyanotypes - Artist Sarah Dunn Talks Accessible Art-making August 11 2022

There are many terrifying things about finishing college. Many graduates are concerned with entering the real-world market. For me, it was entering a world without 24/7 print shop access. What was I to do without acid baths, graining sinks, pressure washers, and printing presses? Answer: Cyanotype. I have worked in most printmaking methods, but cyanotype hadn't piqued my interest. What can I say? I am not a blue person. The realization that there was an accessible method and materials that didn't require traditional makers spaces was evolutionary. All I needed was a dark room and a sunny day. Cyanotypes were invented in the 1840s by astronomer and chemist John Federick William Herschel. Anna Atkins, a trained botanist, popularized the technique by establishing this photographic process as an accurate alternative to scientific illustration. One of the earliest examples is her book, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. Cyanotypes are defined as, irreproducible prints, with white silhouettes on Prussian blue grounds. A mixture of equal parts ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide is applied in a low-light environment. Jacquard makes an easy-to-use kit found at most art retailers. The importance of coating your paper evenly and in a low-light environment will ensure further success. A foam brush gets an even layer and clean margins. However, I love the look of using a brush and creating wispy margins. After coating, the paper is left to dry in your 'darkened room.' An actual dark room with red light is ideal. However, you can use a low-lit room with covered windows. I usually put them in the bathtub. Works like a charm.
Laying in the sun
Papers, most recently tried: Natural Kozo Medium Weight M-0202 White Kozo Heavyweight G-0001 Green Tea Flecks on Green G-0016 Mitsumata Unryu Heavy Weight Brushed Surface G-0006 Masa Soft White I-MM or I-MMLg Now the fun part. Exposure! Artists traditionally arrange their compositions in a dark room. If you lack bat vision, move into a more lit area as long as your coated paper remains out of direct sunlight - the brighter the area, the faster you'll need to work. The first time I tried making cyanotypes, I arranged my entire composition outside in direct sunlight. It felt like a fast-paced game show. Not exactly a relaxing experience. However, the prints worked due to my lightning speed. I suggest placing your coated paper on a sheet of plexiglass, firm paper, or cardboard before arranging your composition. This will make transferring your piece into the sunlight easier. Arrange objects you'd like exposed, remembering that cyanotypes are silhouettes of objects. If you place a smaller leaf inside a large leaf, the larger leaf will only be exposed. The larger consumes the smaller leaf. After completing your composition, place a sheet of clear glass, plexiglass, or acetate on top to weigh down the objects. Your sandwiched cardboard, paper, and Plexi are ready to move outside into direct sunlight. I strongly recommend using rocks or other paperweights to hold down your work if you use acetate instead of glass or plexiglass. The wind can and will blow everything away. It’s embarrassing chasing after your artwork in the parking lot while your neighbors watch. Ask me how I know.
Stopping the process with a water bath
Once the cyanotype turns a bronzy-brown color, it is ready to be washed out. Carry the entire sandwich out of direct sunlight. Use cool water to wash the print. Many artists prefer to do this in some kind of low vat or tub, continuously agitating the paper by rocking the vat back and forth or using their hands. The print is thoroughly washed out when the ground has turned blue, and the silhouettes lighten. While it dries, the Prussian blue grows deeper in color.
Dry version on the left, the wet version on the right
Since the 1840s, this is how traditional cyanotypes were made. However, as with any medium, artists have pushed boundaries. My personal favorite is wet cyanotypes. This technique adds manipulators such as herbs, salt, pepper, coffee grounds, and lemon juice while the paper is still wet with chemistry, creating multiple colors and variations. Move sandwiched piece (while wet) into the sun to finish exposure. The results have a more painterly appearance, with the overall look of being hand-dyed. This method gives a more botanical or nature-inspired feel.
Salt and soap bubbles
Amendments added to your wet work create texture and color: Salt makes small spots or an acid-dye effect. Lemon juice produces large spots. Foamy soap gives a subtle washy effect, changing the deep blue background to earthy green. Kitchen items such as turmeric, paprika, tea, and coffee can be sprinkled to create more color variations. Experiment with any and everything! Effects will vary. The rest of the wet process is similar to the traditional dry cyanotype except for exposure time. Dry cyanotypes take 5-30 minutes, determined by sun conditions. Wet cyanotypes may take up to 24 hours. Generally, the longer you can leave exposed to the sun, the better. I typically leave mine for two hours in full sun. I recently taught a workshop at Paper Connection with students waiting as little as 30 minutes before washing their prints. Their pieces turned out beautifully. Currently, I am using wet cyanotypes to re-panel lampshades I thrifted. The light shining through really emphasizes the subtleties in texture and color. Overall, I love the accessibility cyanotypes give my artistic practice. I enjoy making simply for the joy it brings me. What will you make with cyanotypes? I would love to see. Stay tuned for more workshops through Paper Connection. Many thanks to Lauren Pearlman for helping with photography.
Sarah Dunn - Artist-in-residence
Note: In the next blog post, we'll do a deeper dive into papers that work well with cyanotypes. Check out our Monthly Subscription Service and Shop Paper Pastiche! our papers help tell your story - want more?