Would You Like a Spot of Tea?

I’ve enjoyed experimenting with cyanotypes for about the past year, and I thought I would give a new technique a try.  I recently did some kallitypes, and though I love the finished result, with my tiny apartment and somewhat limited resources, I wanted to try some things that would give me a similar look, but with less chemistry.  So I began researching, and found tons of things about toned cyanotypes, and decided to give it a try.  As you can probably tell from my previous cyanotype post, I kind of had this in mind when making my last prints, and decided to make a few extra.

I started with the two above prints, and put them in a solution of mostly water, and a little bleach.  Bleach was probably the least suggested bleaching agent that I read about, since many said it would eat away at the fibers of the paper, but it’s what I had handy.  I would say my mix was about 95% water, and about 5% bleach, which in retrospect was a little light on the bleach.  However, I’d rather babysit my prints and add a little more bleach later than destroy them.

So after a long time babysitting, and adding more bleach, I finally got the prints to a tone which I was satisfied with; just a little bit of the blue left from the original cyanotype, and mostly yellow left for the rest of the emulsion.  Though it took a while, the plus side was that the quality/durability of the watercolor paper that I used didn’t suffer as a result.  After my researching, I found that different types of tea would have different effects on the bleached emulsion.  I decided to go with a mixture of mostly black tea (about 5 bags), and a little green tea (about 4 bags).  The black tea was said to make the prints take on a tone of brown/black, while the green tea was to add a tone of violet, so I thought the two would make an interesting mix.  After boiling some water and steeping the tea, I added my newly bleached prints to the warm bath.

So again with the babysitting, which I think I may have overdone a little this time.  I wanted to keep some of the highlights closer to white, but they pretty much took on the tea tone.  The emulsion, however, took on a great tone of a dark brown/black, with a little bit of the cyan, or perhaps the violet from the green tea, peeking through.  I’m happy with the results for my first go round, but I’m going to make some more prints and try it again.  Maybe no bleaching/less bleaching, or maybe another soaking bath to change it to a different tone.  Guess you’ll just have to wait and see!  Let me know what you think of the two final results!


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