Tag Archives: cyanotypes

Cleanup From 2019

Despite a few forays into new work, I’ve kept my needle to the grindstone to complete two pieces from 2019. The first, “Sunset,” is a working quilt made of scraps and based on directions from Christina Camelli. I had it quilted with a pantograph pattern by a local longarm quilter just to get it out of my closet.

Here it is on the job, i.e. on my sofa ready for a lap. Usually my husband has it folded neatly and draped squarely in the middle of the sofa back, a look I hate.

The second one, “Aunt Harriet’s Handiwork,” I quilted in a spiral from the center. I used a narrow, single layer binding in blue. Since I prefer a skinny binding, I used a double fold one only on working quilts, like “Sunset.”

It features cyanotypes of my great aunt’s crocheted doilies and antimacassars. I think she would have enjoyed the bold colors, given her taste in wool yarn used in her afghans.


Filed under Completed Projects

Aunt Harriet Casts Some Shade

Like many women of my generation, I have inherited handiwork made by women in the previous generation. Some artists like Amy Meissner have created art with such bits. While I’ve repurposed inherited table linens by dyeing, printing, etc., I’ve been more hesitant to cut up crocheted pieces made by my father’s Aunt Harriet.

Great Aunt Harriet must have covered all her relatives’ tables with doilies and the backs and arms of their upholstered furniture with antimacassars. She also crocheted afghans with wool yarn from a local carpet factory. Those afghans have held up for at least 80 years, though they are a bit scratchy.

An improv afghan?

I decided to use the doilies to print designs on cyanotype fabrics I bought on a whim. If you’ve ever done sun printing on fabric, you know the process. The fabric is treated with potassium ferricyanide and a ferric salt solution, and turns a bright color (usually blue) everywhere except where you’ve placed an object that blocks the light.

My cyanotypes in process.

After I used up the whole pack of fabric I realized that I had no plan for how to use my prints. Now I wish I had been more methodical, but oh well.

The cyanotype squares sat in my unique-fabrics-that-I-have-no-idea-what-to-do with pile until last week when I wanted to use ombre fabric I had already cut for a top that I decided not to make up. The colors of the scrappy blocks I created just were too delicate for that green. No one would call my cyanotype colors delicate.

Of course, I still have nine other cyanotype blocks to find a use for.


Filed under Fabric Printing, In Process

Fun With the Sun

Cyanotypes, which are actually photographs, are yet another way to create designs on fabric. A cyanotype “is a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print. Engineers used the process well into the 20th century as a simple and low-cost process to produce copies of drawings, referred to as blueprints. The process uses two chemicals: ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide.”

You can coat fabric with those chemicals yourself or you can buy fabric already coated. After that, the process is the same. You choose materials you want to photograph and lay them on the treated fabric.

Then, you cover them with glass or some other clear object to hold the materials in place and expose the fabric to the sun for 10 to 15 minutes.

After you bring the fabric inside you remove the materials and rinse the fabric in water. Then you admire your results.

I had bought a packet of assorted color pretreated cyanotype fabric squares with a gift certificate from Dharma Trading, and was waiting for sunshine and warm weather. When those events aligned I set up my work area on the roof of my screen porch.  Why the roof? Because I can access it through a door from my bedroom. I suppose the people we bought our house from had visions of night star gazing, but it’s three stories up from the driveway and the railing isn’t very high. Also, wasps love to build nests on the railing. So I was happy to find a use for that roof.

I was pleased with my results, and have found many breathtaking examples of this technique online. How about this delicate piece by Linda Sterner?

I have no idea what I’ll make with my crocheted pieces, but I still have eight more treated fabric squares to play with.




Filed under Fabric Printing, Techniques