A cyanotype is a photographic print that is made using UV rays, either from the sun or a UV lamp. Also known as a sunprint, or blueprint, they are characterised by the very intense blue that emerges when the chemicals expose. Cyanotypes were first used in 1843 by the botanist Anna Atkins, who used the process to develop photographs of algae specimens.
The two chemicals used are ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide. These two chemicals are mixed, and the solution is then painted onto a material (which can be fabric, wood, paper…). Various things can be used to create a template on the material, and what is effectively the ‘negative’, and the image is then exposed for between 1 minute to an hour.
Anything can be used as a template - flowers, leaves, material, hands, legs, film negatives... Annie has combined pencil drawings and photographs to create digital negatives, and printed them onto tracing paper to create the template. This is placed on the cotton paper, with a heavy sheet of glass to hold it all down and left in the sun for a few minutes until fully exposed. The image is then soaked in cold water, and rinsed before leaving to dry.