One of the side effects of a global pandemic is that social life and traveling have been put to a stop. For many Lomographers, it’s understandable that they may not be able to create as much for their analogue routine – but not with Lomographer Mandy Kerr, a.k.a. mjanekerr. The lockdown has given her a blessing in disguise – a time to finally use her cyanotype kit and experiment with it.
According to Mandy, she's bee doing a whole lot less of photography since last year compared back then. With so little time, there's only a tiny window frame to add her analogue endeavors. Always been the experimentalist she is especially with printmaking, the pandemic has become a blessing in disguise and was able to finally use her cyanotype kit that's been around her cupboard for about three years:
"I have always loved exploring techniques in art/photography, and did an extended block of printmaking at art college, which encouraged experimentation and gave me a little knowledge of some of the ways photography can be used to make prints, without using a camera/lens. I do lots of research and find some great tips from others on the Lomography website, plus I became a member of Edinburgh LoFi group (based in Edinburgh) who is a lovely group of creative and experimentally minded individuals who are always encouraging by being happy to share their methods, work, and ideas."
Her wet cyanotypes are made on heavy mixed media paper, covered with cyanotype solution, dried, and then sprayed with water before exposure. What makes this series extra special is the cyano-lumen are on B&W photo paper, with the solution applied immediately on the exposure, without drying. She also experimented with some kitchen condiments to 'spice' things up, such as paprika, chili flakes, loose tea leaves, soap suds, and plastic wrap to add more dimension to the compositions. The specks of yellow and gold are from applying turmeric.
Her project is a testament to one's resourcefulness and eagerness. Since she used negatives for her exposure, was a bit difficult to find dark areas but with air circulation to dry the paper once coated with the cyanotype solution, but with some careful thought and improvising a space for the prints, she was able to dry out the prints inside her cupboard. Finding the perfect weather in Scotland is also something she needed to consider, but fortunately, the light during that day worked for her.
"..probably not ideal, but does the job if need be! I eventually got annoyed with making just one print at a time, so I went on to use ALL of my chopping boards, but with plastic wrap on top, instead of glass.... which actually gives a great texture. If you are going to try cyanotype process, I'd say order some clip frames (make sure the glass is not UV protected, you need the sun to get through) and some proper clamps to secure the glass to the backboard, so the composition is preserved, and so that there is good contact with the subject and paper. "
Mandy didn't own a contact printer and used a chopping board to place the paper for the exposure, with glass atop of it. To secure the print, she used clothes pegs. All these items should bear in mind that they can no longer be repurposed into household items since cyanotype solutions stain a lot.
Lately, Mandy's now trying out anthotype printing where she makes a solution from natural/plant sources like turmeric or beetroot, and coat the paper with that. Her first few prints have taken the majority of the day in being exposed under strong sunlight.
"I plan to experiment to see which different colors can be achieved. I love that it's all-natural, and uses no chemicals to develop or fix. I also find the transient nature of this type of print an interesting concept .... the result is not permanent... if further exposed to light, it will fade or disappear pear completely. You can, of course, scan the print to retain a copy, but the original will be lost, eventually."
Mandy's spoken to others who had no problem with ordering and receiving cyanotype solutions online during the lockdown, so do try reaching out to your local stores!
What have you been up to lately during the pandemic? Share your alternative analogue adventures by commenting below!