Printmaking Supplies for Cyanotype on Fabric: A Blueprint for Success

Fans of indigo-dyed fabrics, blue-and-white pottery, or just the color blue must love the results of the cyanotype printmaking process. Also known as blueprints, these gorgeous cyan blue-toned negatives or images emerge with printmaking supplies like cyanotype chemicals or pre-treated fabric. 

Most fiber artists who make cyanotypes on fabric use a similar method: Treat your fabric with the blueprint chemicals, lay the fabric on a flat substrate with relatively flat items on top to form a resist, then expose it all to the sun for about 15 minutes. Whatever is opaque will block the UV light and create a "negative" or light image, and the part of the fabric that's exposed to UV light will remain "dark" (the original color of the fabric). Remove the resist items, rinse your fabric, and lay it flat to dry.

quilt with cyanotype printmaking techniques sue reno
Sue Reno often pairs botanicals with printmaking techniques.
The centerpiece of this quilt is a cyanotype print made using a
frond as the resist.

Printmaking techniques like this one are relatively simple, and most of the supplies you need for cyanotype printing are readily available around the home.

1. A stiff substrate. Use a piece of foamcore, a scrap of lightweight paneling, or similar flat, portable surface to hold your fabric flat and move it into the sunlight for printing.

2. Found objects. Any relatively flat object or group of objects will work: foliage, paper cutouts, lace, plastic shapes, stencils, etc.

3. A clear sheet of glass (not UV-protected) or acrylic/acetate to place over the found objects to keep them flat. (You will need to clip the acrylic to the substrate to keep it pressed against the fabric. This will help keep the found objects from moving around and keep them in close contact with the fabric to create crisper edges on your print.

4. Sunlight. Print outdoors or by a sunny window where the UV rays shine through.

5. Cyanotype chemicals or pre-treated fabric. If you're reluctant to work directly with the chemicals or are looking for a shortcut, fabric that has been pre-treated works well. It comes sealed in light-blocking packaging and is sold in bolts and a variety of pre-cut sizes.

We've made it a breeze for you to make cyanotype prints with our Easy Cyanotype Printmaking Kit, including 10 pieces of pre-treated fabric and printmaking lessons for cyanotypes and other printmaking techniques from Sue Reno and other fiber and printmaking artists. Get the kit, find a sunny window, and use our blueprint for printmaking success!

P.S. Do you love blue? What's your favorite fabric color or color palette? Leave your answer below. 

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