September 2010

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More Plant Prints

Posted by on 07 Sep 2010 | Tagged as: Anthotype

The summer’s last anthotypes — the exposure has been on for weeks now…

For contact printing I have used cheap picture frames (with non-uv glass) — lightweight and carefree to use. The paper I used here was Guarro Casas.

Jalo Porkkala: Vevey, anthotype.

This plant juice was extracted from petals of (to me unknown) daisy-like orange-red garden flower, the paper was double coated.

Jalo Porkkala: Free Flight, anthotype.

Bird Cherry berries were used as the sensitizer, double coating.

Exposure Time: One Summer

Posted by on 06 Sep 2010 | Tagged as: Anthotype

I have just unloaded two of my split-back contact printing frames and taken out the anthotypes that have been exposed for about a whole Finnish summer. In these northern latitudes UV light seldom is very powerful, so the exposure times for such a slow process can be very long (The Lily of the Valley is an exception, see the previous post)…

Here is a little history of an anthotype print of mine — a picture of a lion statue. The exposure was started on June 1st. Onion skin was boiled for a few minutes, and the tinted water was then used as the sensitizer. The color of the coated paper was quite weak orange-yellow, although I coated the paper four times, with drying in between the coatings. The color was weaker still after exposing for a month.  My contact (positive) inkjet film for the exposure was very contrasty and dense in the shadows.

After a 5 weeks exposure in sunlight (several hours every day, weather permitting) the image was there, but it was hopelessly pale.

I decided to continue printing on top of this pale image with a stronger color, and mashed red rose petals into pulp, and added a milliliter or two of denatured alcohol.

Crushing rose petals.

I then squeezed the juice out of the pulp through a coffee filter, and double coated with the rose purple over the yellow onion image. Before coating I had pushed pins through the film and the paper in all four corners to maintain the registration later.

Two layers of nice rose magenta spread on a sheet of paper.

I continued the exposure with the same negative — couldn’t see the image behind the rose color, but I could register the film to the pushpin holes. I stopped the exposure yesterday because of the low levels of autumn UV light. So the exposure has been continued with the rose color for about 9 weeks now, in addition to the 5 weeks with the onion hue. The print could stand even more, so the highlights could be lightened more. However, the print seems to fade all over during the exposure, even the deepest shadows don’t keep their original color.

Jalo Porkkala: Lion Statue, anthotype.

Here’s another colorant, extracted from mountain cornflower which donates deep ultramarine-like blue juice.

Mountain cornflower (Centauria Montana)

The cornflower is not too juicy, additional alcohol was needed. The sensitizer was coated on paper in four separate layers, but still it wasn’t easy to get an even coating…

The sensitized cornflower anthotype paper and the positive film.

The exposure time finally came to be about 12 weeks…

Jalo Porkkala: Lacock, anthotype.

Got two more anthotype prints coming out from the contact frames on the next few days… will post how they look.

Fast Anthotype

Posted by on 05 Sep 2010 | Tagged as: Anthotype

The summer has  gone, the sun’s UV levels are getting low, and it might be a good time to publish the results of my anthotype experiments…

Anthotype (plant print) is a printing method where images are made using plant juices. The juices of crushed petals, leaves or stalks are the photosensitive liquids, and they will also form the colors of the final prints. Basically you squeeze liquid out of the plant that has the color you want to use in your print. A paper is then coated with the plant juice, and exposed to sunlight — usually for a very long time!

A positive contact film is needed for the exposure — the process is based on fading of organic colorants. So, light will pass through the clear parts of the film (highlights), which will fade in the sun, and the dark parts will block the light, causing the shadows not to change much.

It is quite easy to make anthotype photograms, by exposing some opaque materials in contact with the emulsion. The tone scale will pretty much be like max density vs. fully faded material then; no intermediate tones. I was more interested in printing a real photographic scale… but, as it turned out, plant juices just are not really photographic emulsions, and their tonal range is somewhat limited. However, depending on a photographer’s intentions, anthotype can be a wonderfully expressive use of the photographic medium.

Anthotype images may not be very permanent, because any additional exposure to UV light tends to fade the print further. But then, this is an organic photographic process, changing like other organic matters too.  Permanence can be increased by a UV protection treatment — and keeping the print in the dark!

Jalo Porkkala: Leaf, anthotype.

Extract from Lily of the Valley, three coats applied with a foam brush on Canson Drawing paper. Exposure 7 hours. Covered with a UV protection spray and wax.

In my first experiment here I was using juice from leaves of Lily of the Valley (Convallaria Majalis), with a little bit added denatured alcohol — and I must say I was surprised at the speed of the lily emulsion; it took only about seven hours to expose the image seen above, in full sunlight. And that is super fast compared to the weeks or months exposures with some other plants. Due to this sensitiveness there may be a chance of this print fading pretty fast in natural light… to explore that I covered the print  with a UV protection spray (Print Guard), and moreover, waxed it with Renaissance Wax. The print is now going to be exhibited  for two months in a gallery illumination.