Today We’re Gonna Print it Like its 1842

Over the weekend I picked up this kit.  solar-print-kit-big

“Solar printing” is really nothing more than making cyanotype prints.

Cyanotype printing was invented in 1842 by a dude by the name of Sir John Herschel. He used it to make copies or “blueprints” of his work.

The first person to use it to make prints other than blue prints was botanist Anna Atkins.


She placed the plants she wanted to document straight onto the paper. This is called contact printing.


Atkins is believed to be the first to publish a book of prints, and quite possibly, the first woman photographer.

Today we gave it a go.

Step 1 – Arranging the print

This is a shady spot under a picnic pavilion.


Peter seemed to really enjoy this, we WILL do it again.

Step 2 -Exposure to direct sun


waiting for the paper to turn white

Step 3 – Rinsing in cold water




Everyone wanted to help with the cold water bath.

Step 4 –  Drying

I wish I’d brought a line and clothespins- this table is dirty.DSCN9998


Overall it was a success. Next time though, I’ll skip the kit and buy the chemicals which are very affordable. That way we can use better paper and get something heavier like glass or plexiglass to weigh the print down during processing.  This should improve our print quality.

Next time we might try drawings on transparent paper and see how that goes.


2 thoughts on “Today We’re Gonna Print it Like its 1842

    • amandasmills says:

      it was fun, and they’ve gone an even deeper blue today.
      I didnt get to make my own, too busy supervising
      but i found the solution to put on the paper for under 20 USD – so I’m going to try it – perhaps incorporate into my mixed media work and see how it goes

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