This week we dig deeper into the cyanotype process in our studio in Ubud, Bali. We asked ourselves: does cyanotype only come in the usual blue? Or is there another treatment we could utilize to manipulate the color?

It turns out that we can add another reaction to the usual cyanotype process by soaking the developed image in tannic acid. You may be wondering what the heck is tannic acid and why do we want to change that glorious deep blue hue of cyanotype?

First, tannic acid is a specific form of tannin with very low acidity, normally found in coffee and tea. Second, while it’s called CYANotype, we just seek possibilities, it’s just….. for science, no, for printmaking’s sake.

The reaction between tannic acid (tea in this particular case) and cyanotype solution (that’s ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide for you lovely printmaking nerds out there), changes the color from the usual rich blue to deep dark reddish color. The longer you put the paper in the tea/coffee bath the darker it will get.

Photo used in this print: backside of the 18th-century painting on canvas “The Knight of the Order of Malta” from the Ordem Terceira de São Francisco do Porto

Ps. if you haven’t tried any cyanotype yet, did you know that we have a weekly walk-in workshop called Cyanotype Friday at our studio in Ubud? Or if you want to do it yourself, we also have the handy DIY cyanotype kit for your home experiments. Alright. Cheers! 🍻