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!

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?

An Inside Look at Paint & Calligraphy Papers April 25 2021

Character Appeal

Xuan - Super soft, absorbing ink consistently and evenly Pronounced "shwen," this paper provides a pristine surface for writing and painting. Handmade in historic, Anhui Province, China, Xuan has stood the test of time as the ink of ancient scrolls and paintings still retaining its vibrancy to this day. For all levels, this is a quality paper for practice and finished work and very affordable. Mini Xuan paper is a charming handmade paper for writing or incorporating mixed media. Made from recycled materials, including bamboo waste paper, here is a great paper for beginners. Economical and made to support hand/eye development for more solid practices. For all levels, this paper works widely for practice and finished work. Papers great for Asian-style calligraphy (shodō), sumi painting, and fish printing (gyotaku) A lovely assortment includes Kihosen Kana, handmade in Japan with a mix of mitsumata, bamboo, and kōzo fibers. This professional-grade sumi painting or calligraphy paper comes folded and may require a warm iron or just leave rolled for a few days. Currently we sell scroll-sized Kana paper in 10-sheet sets. Soonji made from white Korean mulberry paper (hanji) is also an excellent choice. There is no sizing which makes it absorbent and ideal for calligraphy, Sumi-e, and brush painting amongst other uses. Sunn is a very traditional paper developed in the 8th century for writing religious script and Persian miniature paintings. It is made from raw fermented and cooked hemp and then burnished by hand. The surface is coated with wheat starch, a sizing of egg-white, and alum, burnished with agate to provide a naturally sized surface with an incredible sheen. Yin Yang Dochim Hanji is a beautiful, heavyweight, and burnished mulberry paper. Fibers are compacted and "small-pored," making them great for applying ink with no bleeding. Rustic lokta papers from Nepal are not technically burnished but lokta fiber once made into a sheet is naturally small-pored. Japanese kōzo papers with a bit of internal sizing (sizing added to the vat before formation) are suitable for beginners to experts. If you are unsure what type of kōzo to use, start here for its versatility and price.
Rick Lowe brush painting on lokta paper.
Take a step toward further experimentation! These depicted here are some marvelous papers to explore.
Rona Conti wielding her calligraphy brush.

Sizing - Alum can be a key constituent of your work. When the paper is called "sized" there is usually alum involved. Traditional sizing or size is made with a recipe of animal skin glue and alum to create a barrier in or on the paper so ink does not absorb into the fibers. (Here's a vegan version to DIY sizing). Sized papers are less absorbent and more forgiving of water-based techniques, lending themselves to multiple paint and ink washes/modifications. In other words, sized papers "hold up" against liquids and pigments. Without sizing, paper can be highly absorbent and valued for depth and vividness, allowing painters and calligraphers further complexity to their imagery and characters. Professional brush painters look for the rate of ink absorption. Plus they look for a well-formed sheet which will have an even ink bleed no matter where you place your wet brush. Many of the pros use paper without sizing. Burnished, pressed, or "calendered" paper surfaces will often be sufficient to slow or stop paint from unwanted bleeding. You can bet that most papers from Asia are not sized. fricka-artist/writer/editor our papers help tell your story • want more?

Mimi King: Appreciative Evolution August 10 2020

Cups of Cheer: Proceeds support Feed More, an non-profit providing healthy options to anyone with limited food access.
Paper Connection was thrilled to catch up with Mimi King as her career evolves with new projects soon-to-be announced on Mimi's Instagram.

A Deep Love for Slow Processes, Strength of Commitment, and Lifting the Community

Mimi's work sparks joy while raising money to support BIPOC (Black and Indigenous Person/People of Color) and those experiencing food insecurity.
Cups of Cheer "tea bag" - up front and center!


PCI: Mimi, how would you define what you do? MK: I am a printmaker and analog collage artist, I use a combination of intaglio, monotype, and fabric. PCI: Can you share insights into your process and current studio projects? MK: There are always about ten different projects going at once to allow space to think through each piece and keep myself active. One of my core beliefs is that we as individuals cannot rise unless we use our skills, time, and/or money to lift our community. To that end, I’m working on a couple of projects to support communities in need. The Cups of Cheer Project is a collection of small gampi “tea bags” filled with recycled cotton fabrics which can be used as bookmarks or framed wall art. 80% of proceeds go to Feed More, an organization providing food to anyone who doesn’t have access to healthy options. Once a month, I auction an original collage on a cradled board, donating 80% of proceeds to Girls For A Change, who “empower young women to design, lead, fund, and implement social change in their own neighborhoods”. I plan to expand this further in the future, so I can support more organizations like these.
The Order of Hypnales, XI
Strawberry Lemonade
PCI: Can you speak about your life trajectory and influences that brought you to this place in your artwork and/or creating your current works? MK: Growing up in a working class family prepared me for the print studio more than I ever thought. I stepped into printmaking with an ethic of not shying away from hard work and the understanding to take the time to do something right yields far better results than simply focusing on efficiency and speed. From soaking the paper, to mixing the ink, working in the print studio teaches one to appreciate the process. I've always admired the richness of the arts and culture of Japan, especially coming from a country less than 250 years old. Studying abroad in Hamamatsu and the Kansai region will always be one of my most treasured life experiences. One fall pottery class, my professor reminded me many times to go slowly, to enjoy the learning process. “少しずつ, 少しずつ” (sukoshizutsu, sukoshizutsu, little by little, slowly), he’d say throughout the day, something I tell myself when I hurtle full-on into a new technique. The dedication to craft, to learning a skill gradually and correctly is a Japanese practice I am continuously building into my studio practice. Nearsightedness has played a large role in the way I view the world. I lean in, hold things close to my eyes, seek out the nuances of a leaf, a flower, a brick wall, moss. I create tiny details in my work as a way of sharing the joy I feel daily when my world moves from impressionism to clarity using visual aids. PCI: Which artist/people in your life most influenced and inspire you and in what way? MK: Both of my parents are very artistically minded, my dad is a fabricator and inventor, he can make anything. Whenever I have a building project or concept for a new way of presenting a piece, he’s the first person I talk to. My mom taught me many of the tricks I still use to draw landscape elements; I remember asking her to “help me make it look real” because I didn’t like the way we drew trees in kindergarten. “Broccoli trees” just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t really approach art seriously until I reached university. I have Tanja Softic, my former printmaking professor, to thank for my printing skills and love of paper. She teaches me so much, constantly. We have very different printmaking styles, but whenever I help print one of her editions, I’m thinking the entire time of how I can implement aspects of the way she builds up images. The way I layer prints with hand coloring and collage really comes from watching her chine collé and collaging elements onto finished prints, especially chiyogami pieces. PCI: Can you describe the importance of paper in your work and what type of paper (medium) you use most? MK: Paper is a truly remarkable substrate - it is lightweight, easy to store and transport, it can be soft, hard, molded, dyed, drawn/printed on. Paper offers me a freedom other mediums do not as readily. If a piece isn’t satisfactory, I can slip it in a drawer for a while, pull it out, cut it up, and use it as an element of another collage. I most often reach for Japanese papers, gampi for its translucency and wonderful way of holding ink on the surface. It is ideal for lightweight building and handles watercolor very well. Chiyogami, yuzen, and katazome are wonderful for collage, the pops of color and weight differences lend well to creating depth in collage. While I’ve been playing with the contrasts between cotton fabrics and paper recently, I will always come back to paper.
Melon Kakigori
Hanabi Kakigori
Butterfly Pea Kakigori
PCI: Can you talk about your interest in collage vs straight up printmaking techniques? Can you reflect within your work and beyond? MK: My use of collage came about as a way to undermine my inner critic, who is always quick to remind me that I “can’t draw”. If I “draw” through collage though, I’m not actually drawing and find myself better able to translate the form of the object from 3D to 2D. I also began using collage at a time when I couldn’t access the print studio with the aquatint boxes or etching baths. Now, I use collage to build layer, depth, shadow, texture - it’s a tool that enhances straight up printmaking techniques. This gives me the freedom to build an image and explore the physicality of paper. Japanese papers, due to their strength and translucency, have been perfect for delving into this concept further. One of the first things I notice when looking at the leaves of a tree or petals of a flower is their translucency in light and the shadows created when they overlap one another. Especially with a paper like gampi, the translucency of the paper once one or more layers of transparent ink is on it, really lends itself to layering. PCI: Are there any particular papers from Paper Connection that you can speak about, perhaps providing tips for usage or handling, and insights of the paper’s integrity and quality, etc. ? MK: I’ve never been disappointed by any of the papers I’ve ordered from Paper Connection! I highly recommend Usuyou Gampi, Kozo, Gampi, “Kitakata”, and Aiko’s Honen with sizing. I’ve used all but the Honen for monotype and etching, they handle the ink incredibly well. A number of student printmakers I’ve worked with have expressed a hesitancy over the seeming fragility of gampi, but the strength of the fibers is incredible if you respect the paper. I recommend using an archival film adhesive called Gudy O once prints have fully dried for collaging or in place of chine collé. Gudy O is fantastic because it doesn’t discolor the print and will actually increase the transparency of gampi. It also doesn’t lose its stickiness when I hand color prints, which I only begin after I’ve backed the paper with Gudy O. PCI: Are there particular questions that no one has asked with regards to your creative process, philosophy, or recent experience you’d like to share? MK: This is the first time I’ve been asked about my use of collage. Recently I was asked why I choose to cut by hand the tiny pieces of the moss etching in The Order of Hypnales series that I’ve been working on this year. Why not use a laser cutter or have a machine cut each piece out perfectly for me? My hands, my mind, my eyes are not machines, I am not perfect. If one looks closely, they can see that all my collages are cut by hand. My work is about understanding the world around me and the way my mind, hands, and eyes interpret it. Accepting and incorporating the imperfection of my handiwork is important to my artwork.
Flowers of Mara details
Flowers of Mara
PCI: One last question: If you could have a conversation with any artist present or past, who would it be? MK: Oh, this is such a difficult question! There are many incredible artists alive right now I want to speak with, and so many in the past who didn’t write their own history that I'd like to speak with. It would be amazing to have a one-on-one conversation with Danielle Krysa, the Jealous Curator, as a fellow collage artist, she’s had so many wonderful conversations with other artists. Listening to her podcasts have been incredibly uplifting and encouraging, particularly when I’ve been in deep places of doubt as a visual artist. All images thanks to Mimi King! Mimi will be having a studio sale on Instagram August 17-21 so check it out! - fricka a.i.r. – our papers help tell your story