Friday, March 25, 2011

Anthotype Explosion

As of two minutes ago, I've got nine (9!) anthotypes baking at the moment. Three of them have been sitting in the back of my car since Monday afternoon, so they'll be ready to come out very soon. I'm going to re-arrange the leaves on them and try double-exposure again, but with longer exposure on the first pass. Four days should be enough.

The other six are double experiments (not exposures) since first off, they're hybrid sensitizers. I've mixed together tumeric and red wine for two of them, added paprika to two more and the other two are pure paprika which in the past I had no luck with at all. It doesn't provide a red at all, instead a sort of sickly, pale yellow-orange.

I'm going to be trying some red cayenne pepper later this weekend for a red coating. I'm also doing a lot of reading on natural dyes and once I get a set of pots that I won't be bothered by boiling up all manner of things toxic and unsafe in, I'll start producing natural dyes to use as anthotype sensitizers. I've got blackberries (violet), beets (red), carrots (orange), plus some tarragon and spinach (two greens). Found some alum in the spice section that can be used as a mordant. No idea what effect a mordant will have on the anthotype process. If applied before, will it prevent the fading which causes the process to work? If applied after, will it work at all?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Works in Progress (Sorta)

The possibility (however faint) of a show later this year for my folklore illustrations has got me turned back on to the idea of starting a few more. Well, I started them a long time ago, I just need to finish them.

Currently, I've got three illustrations in the series:
  • The Golem of Prague (Czech Republic)
  • The Fate of the Mary Celeste (Atlantic Ocean by way of America)
  • A Song of Sixpence (England)

I've started work on two more:
  • Jenny Greenteeth (England)
  • Baba Yaga (Russia)

And I've got concepts and mind-images for a few more:
  • General Winter (Russia)
  • The Lost Colony (America)
  • The Black Dog (England)
  • The Scholomance (Romania)
I really want to finish up Jenny Greenteeth (a river hag who drowns unsuspecting travelers who stray too close to the water, probably inspired by the dangers of duckweed) and Baba Yaga (a Russian/Slavic witch who appears in several stories), but the story of the Scholomance really has me going and I've got all sorts of great visuals for the Black Dog and General Winter.

Maybe I can work out some sort of collaboration with Tiffany on General Winter, since she's into military history.

Anthotypical Production

I can't decide if the prints I'm making these days are "anthotypes" at all. Certainly, they use the same process of sun-bleaching to produce a negative image via contact printing. However, an "anthotype" by definition should use flowers. Anthos means flower. Maybe a more accurate term would be Floratype or would that be Florotype? My Latin is a bit fuzzy.

I've gotten MUCH better results from spices than from flowers. Fruits and flowers I can sorta see as being under "anthotype" but it's hard for me to say a print made with a coffee sensitizer is an "anthotype." Coffee isn't a flower.

That aside, I've been having a LOT of fun this week and last working on my anthotypes (for the moment, I'll go with the established term). Some really fun results and one mind-blowing WTF moment where I still haven't figured out what happened.

Flickr, of course, has the latest results of my experimentation. See it over here?
Yeah, you see it. Ain't it cool?

Double-exposure is a pretty neat trick, I like the way it worked out. I'm going to be trying that one again, this time with a mixed tumeric-wine sensitizer.

Digital manipulation of the original anthotype images just blew me away. When I scanned the first batch, all I wanted to do was boost the colors a bit, maybe clean up some stubborn spots of plant-matter adhered to the image. This second round? Adjusting the curves of the images opened up whole new levels of detail that were recorded, but not visible. Seriously, check out the Cactus image.

The biggest surprise came from the Red Wine print I made with fresh pansies. At first, I thought it was a failure. Hardly any bleaching had occurred after 6 days of good, strong sunlight. I could barely tell where the pansies had been, even when I was trying to pry them off the paper. On a whim, and a suggestion from Tiffany, I decided to wash the print to see if anything happened. No, it didn't. But then, for some reason, I decided to scrub the print with soapy water and a sponge. The red wine pigment started to come off very easily and underneath, there was a BLEACHED OUT IMAGE OF THE FLOWERS! The paper retained a good amount of red-brown coloration, EXCEPT where the fresh flowers had been pressed! Somehow, the flowers bleached away everything UNDER them, but it wasn't revealed until I washed away the pigment on the surface of the paper!

NO idea how it happened but... wow! It was amazing to watch. The print is pretty nice, too, but the REAL triumph of that print was just seeing it appear out of ruin and loss!