Sunlight printing & developing

St Helens Through The Lens project artist Debbie Adele Cooper ran some fantastic Sunprinting workshops at Thatto Heath & Newton Le Willows Libraries recently.  Debbie has given us an overview of the methods used in the workshops and more information on how you could have a go at home:

Cyanotypes (sun prints) are one of the oldest forms of photographic printing, and are actually where we get the term architects ‘blueprints’ from.  The workshops explored developing prints, echoing back to the methods that would be used by photographers making prints from glass plate negatives.


First I printed out a selection of photographs from the collection onto transparent acetate to make negatives.  I brought non-toxic Cyanotype paper to the workshops and people used transparencies from the collection and natural objects to make original artworks.  To develop the images, we used a UV light box, however this activity is easy to do at home, you can buy Sunprint paper, develop in sunlight and ‘fix’ your artwork by washing the print in cold water. 

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As part of the workshop we also used strong tea to soak the images in, which gave a really effective tone to the images:


Untoned print


Tea-toned print

Workshop participants printed some beautiful images of St Helens and experimented with ‘double-exposures’ by laying one transparency over another.


At the end of the workshops participants dried their prints with a zebra patterned hairdryer, a rather unusual sight in a library!”


Drying the prints

Debbie will be running more creative workshops as part of this project, the next will be as part of Explore Your Archive on Friday 25 & Saturday 26 November at Central Library.

If you would like to try this workshop for yourself at home, there are plenty of places to buy Sunprint / Cyanotype paper: Homecrafts, Fred Aldous, Curious Minds, Amazon


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