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. 

3 thoughts on “Cyanotype on ceramic surfaces – Test 1

  1. So glad to see your post. I too am fascinated and kind of excited by cyanotypes, although I have so far only dabbled on paper with the intention of trying it on fabric. Your beeds are like seed pods really nice, and its good to see how well your experimeent has worked. I imagine it will be challenging to get an actual image on a small item. But where there is a will….

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