Cyanotype on ceramic surfaces – Test 1

I’ve been playing with clay  for the past few months with lots of grand ideas swirling around in my brain about getting Prussian Blue cyanotype on to porcelain vessels. 

I got all inspired for a little afternoon experiment after my friend Kim  ( )  put a call out for me on facebook to her ceramic network for advice on the ‘how to’ of getting cyanotype on to clay !! 

The Sun was strong this afternoon so I thought I’d just start with basics & try and just get the solution onto a few bisqued   porcelain beads & not bother with imagery to begin with.  My aim with this experiment was to: 

1)achieve a strong & stable Prussian Blue. 2) check to see if the clay was porous enough to take the solution &  3)See wether all the usual cyanotype rules would apply

I used some old solution that has been stored well in the dark & my little experiment was very successful.  

I managed to achieve a good Prussian Blue (even in the 4pm sunlight & with old solution!)  Midday sun is usually the best exposure time & freshly mixed solution is best.  

The exposure time is possibly longer than a paper surface & I think the washout time is longer too.  

 I bound one bead in thread to see if the same principles of cyanotype  applied with good clear results  ie: “if it lets the light through, it will turn blue, if it blocks the light out, it’ll stay white”  It was very successful ! photograms will work very well on a clay surface  

I’m incredibly excited about combining my cyanotype printmaking & ceramics and I can’t wait to conduct a few more initial experiments with photograms & digital negatives & get some imagery happening.   I’m not sure, however, that it will fire.  I still have to do much research about firing cyanotype.  

Here’s a few photos – 

These are the southern ice  porcelain beads I made. They have just been bisque fired (I’m not sure what temp as I’m such a newbie to ceramics & someone else packed the kiln !!)

Into the solution for a short soak 

Out into the Sun 

Strong Prussian Blues beginning to appear after about 6 minutes – (oops a bit of staining on the front step!)

 Yessssss- Beautiful Prussian Blue achieved

Washout ….. I have a feeling that they may even need soaking for better & more stable results ? If you don’t get all the solution out – the exposure process continues, the printed image blurs & the white areas  become blue as well

This is the bead that I’m most excited about. I bound it with thread. The  result  tells me that fine images from digital negatives & photograms  are going to be possible & very successful on bisque ware 

The colour is holding well – doesn’t scratch or rub off & seems to be deepening as it develops, which is usual for cyanotype. 

As an after thought, I decided to soak the test beads. This is to  entirely remove the solution that seemed to keep seeping out of the porous clay & dulling the whiteness of the white areas.  Soaking will stabilise the cyanotype & complete  the developing process correctly.  I know this as I’ve had problems with unstable cyanotypes on paper  in the past & I’m guessing the same rules would apply to clay bodies. 

I’m all fired up & excited about my ideas now.  Next sunny day, I will try a few photograms for test 2.  It’s going to be a bit of a journey as I’ve only just dipped my toe into the ceramic world with a recent 10 week course. There’s  a lot to learn.   Luckily I have a pottery wheel here at home  on loan from the fabulous Kim, so I am also trying to develop my throwing skills.