The cyanotype, also known as a blueprint, is considered among the easiest of all the historical methods. Discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1842 as an adjunct to his explorations in mathematics, astronomy, botany and chemistry, cyanotype is a simple iron salt process first popularized by Anna Atkins who created the worlds first book consisting of photographs, a collection of English algae, created as a gift for her father, a vicar. This classic Prussian blue process is a great place for both beginners and accomplished artists alike to explore. Cyanotypes are economical, permanent, have few pitfalls, and are versatile in that a variety of toning effects are possible.


What’s a photogram? Well, it’s what you get if you lay a flower or other object over a sensitised surface and the shadow of the object makes the design during exposure to UV light – there is no negative or camera involved.

You can use anything that blocks light to make a photogram. Look for things with interesting edges such as ferns, brackens, flowers, leaves (especially sprays of small leaves), bamboo, insects, feathers and so on. A lot of weeds work well (see bottom left). Dried flowers and leaves can give some very nice effects.

Items like ferns, which have tiny fronds very close together may benefit from carefully snipping out some of the fronds so that the beauty and intricacy of the remaining ones are more easily seen.


Look for things that are transluscent or have transluscent sections. Some flowers give beautiful, ethereal images but also try things like bubble wrap, sellotape or small pieces of glass (for the edges). (


Dan Peyton, 6 Tall Sunflowers, cyanotype, 65 x 53 cm


John Brewer, Sunflowers, Cyanotype


I’m planning on creating some cyanotype prints with the dead sunflower so that it will take in the texture of it and create an ultraviolet movement and emotion as the sunflower is representing sorrowfulness within the colour of the blueprints being dark blue and the lifeless sunflower.


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