Cyanotypes – Becoming Invisible by Liz Loveless

A cyanotype print of a coat. Image: Liz Loveless – Factory Press

Ahead of our upcoming exhibition with Liz Loveless of Factory Press we take a look at cyanotypes. In this show Liz presents us with a selection of artwork involving the cyanotype process. But what is a cyanotype and how are they created?

Dandelion and Grass cyanotypes by Liz Loveless

A cyanotype is a photographic process involving chemicals on paper or fabric that produces cyan blue prints. It was discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1842 as a way of reproducing drawings and diagrams such as architectural blueprints. Cyanotypes are a type of contact print which means the actual image being reproduced is placed directly over the paper. This opens it up to a whole host of creative possibilities, not just reproducing drawings, but using 3D objects. Liz uses this to great effect in her cyanotype works. Everyday objects such as bikes, coats, bottles and vegetation are used to create prints with a unique one-off quality.

A bike being exposed under a UV light onto treated paper. Image: Liz Loveless – Factory Press

To create a cyanotype a mixture of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium are combined to create a photosensitive solution that is then applied to paper. This is allowed to dry in the dark to avoid exposure until it is ready to use. To create a print you must expose this coated paper to UV light, for example sunlight. This then creates a chemical reaction in the parts that are exposed to the light then darkening them. When fully exposed the chemical coated paper is then rinsed under running water. This washes away the unexposed chemical that was in shadow leaving a blank space, surrounded by the blue that was exposed to the light.

A large palm leaf  being exposed in sunlight. Image: Liz Loveless – Factory Press

The most simple way of creating a cyanotype print is to lay objects on to your coated paper and then expose to sunlight. You can experiment with any objects. The more solid an object and the closer it is to the paper the more crisp a result you will get. Further away or less solid an object you will begin to get fuzzier edges. This is most apparent when using natural materials like leaves and flowers. Their 3D quality creates an unpredictable silhouette that fades from crisp dark blue to pale blue blurs. After the cyanotype has had an appropriate time in the sun (this can vary depending on the strength of the sunlight) it is then rinsed under running water and left to dry.

Finished print being rinsed. Image: Liz Loveless – Factory Press

Liz Loveless will be exhibiting more of her cyanotype prints at Of Cabbages and Kings in the show ‘Becoming Invisible‘, which runs from 6 February to 31 March 2020.

You can also book a spot on our Cyanotype Workshop – 2-4pm Saturday 14th March 2020.

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Kingdom Under A Hat /// A Tour Of Factory Press

We’re very excited at Of Cabbages and Kings, to be hosting the launch of the latest edition from Factory Press Kingdom Under A Hat on Thursday 5th March, and last week I cycled over to Clapton to meet the creator – artist, designer and printmaker Liz Loveless. The book is the 9th published by Factory Press and I visited Liz at her studio and shop on the site of a disused ice cream factory just off Chatsworth Road to discuss the story behind it.

open book  garden pic 600  Books-600

A few years ago Liz had been asked to do some illustrations based upon the story of The Rock Garden of Chandigarh in India: A secret world built entirely from rubbish scavenged by it’s creator Nek Chand. This ‘Kingdom’ as Chand liked to refer to it, consisted of man-made interlinked waterfalls and other sculptures made of scrap and waste (bottles, glasses, bangles, tiles, ceramic pots, sinks, electrical waste, etc.) which were placed in walled paths.

The hidden garden had been built in a gorge Chand believed to be wasteland outside the city and no one found it for 19 years. It was discovered by the authorities in 1975, by which time, it had grown into a 12-acre complex of interlinked courtyards, each filled with hundreds of pottery-covered concrete sculptures of dancers, musicians, and animals. A battle then commenced to save the garden from demolition and it was finally granted public space status in 1976.

In January 2014 Liz had the opportunity to visit the garden herself and once again felt inspired by the story of Nek Chand and his secret rock garden. She started gathering discarded wrappers and other paper scraps from the pathways around the garden itself, which she bought back home to use and interweave into her own expression of the rock garden story. These collaged, enlarged sweet wrappers now decorate the end papers of her book.

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Liz often combines collage techniques with hand-pulled silkscreen to create the illusion of texture over a flat surface. Her books start life as A1 sheets of paper screen printed in 3 colours on both sides and finish as limited editions hand bound in cloth or card. Kingdom Under A Hat will be an edition of 650. These large sheets are then guillotined into double pages, arranged in order, folded with the bone folder, measured, hole punched and hand sewn to form the body of the book.

Plan chest- 600  BigsheetsPunch-600  Tools-600Liz-nipping-600  NippingPress

As I watched Liz at each step in the book making process I began to truly understand the love and craftsmanship that goes into constructing each and every one. The next stage was the nipping press. I’d been eying up this beautiful object since I’d entered the studio and couldn’t wait to see Liz put it into action. Liz cases the books in grey card, glues the end papers and covers the spine with bright coral book cloth. The nipping press will only hold 4 books at a time. Cellophane is placed between the pages to prevent the ink from sticking and the books are left overnight, sealing the endpapers to the cover and pressing the pages completely flat. By morning the new books are ready to be numbered and added to the edition.

On Thursday 5th March we’ll be hosting a very special evening to launch the new book. Liz will be at the shop with so please join us on a journey to the magical rock garden of Chandigarh, see Liz’s photo collage installation including a life size bicycle and watch a short supporting animation as well as grab your copy of this beautiful limited edition, hand-pulled silk screen printed, hardback, hand-bound book. There’ll probably be drink or two going round too!

BookLaunchFlyer-small

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