I had a suspicion that something might happen. So, I scanned the image after pressing it dry. Then I left it to hang up and waited to see what would happen. Turns out the mauve color wasn't permanent. It wasn't archival. When the print completely dried, the split-toned mauve-blue became a flat, monotoned brown-maroon. It isn't bad, but it far more closely resembles what I'd normally expect from a fully-bleached cyanotype that was given a soda ash or borax bath, instead of a half-faded cyanotype that just spent too long in the rinse. This may indicate a need to check my tap water for acidity.
I'm a photographer. Part of my job is to record things that no longer exist. Maybe, mostly, things that never existed outside of my own imagination until given form by my manipulation of pixels, light, chemistry and paper. Those things are real because I recorded them. I recorded them digitally, with a camera, a scanner and Photoshop. I've recorded things on film and on paper. So why is it that when using some processes to make my records, its the paper that's my record and anything but the paper is cheating?
Anthotypes can't be preserved without extraordinary measures. The natural pigments that make up the image continue to decay as long as they're exposed to UV light. Even UV-proofing sprays don't halt the fading fully. Placing them under expensive, UV-reflective glass may stop the fading, or at least slow it drastically and enable them to be displayed in a gallery. Otherwise? They have to sit, forever, in a dark box. What's the use of prints no one can see? So, I take photos of the prints, or I scan them and I keep the digital files.
Lumen prints can't be fixed without destroying or altering their color drastically. The original print can't be kept in light without it eventually turning black. Even UV-proof glass won't stop that, because normal light causes the exposure to keep building up. So, what can be done with them? They'll be destroyed faster than an anthotype if left out to be seen. I scan them, too, and keep the digital files.
Recently I've been experimenting with trying to burn more (any) detail into my cyanovellums. I think there's something about the surface that prevents it from recording detail, because my exposure times have ranged up to 2 hours and once fully developed, nothing but a silhouette. But detail does show up in the latent image. The visible, blue-green image that washes away when the cyanotype is put in water to print out, there's detail in that. So, I scan them and keep the digital files. Oh, I keep the parchment as well, but it doesn't look anything like the scan since all the detail washes off in the water.
Photography records things that are transitory. If an image in-progress looks better than the 'final' result, why settle for the final result? Why not present the best face of your work, even if it wasn't permanent? There are dozens of forms of art that leave no permanent result and are displayed later only through photographic, video or audio recording. Thanks to my mauve cyanotype, I'm starting to realize that photography itself doesn't have to be any different. The point at which we stop manipulating an image and consider the result final doesn't have to be the point at which some physical piece of paper becomes archival. We can make more pieces of paper.
Your art is finished when it fully, faithfully and accurately represents the concept you intended it to display to the viewer.
How you arrive at that point is up to you. My anthotypes and lumen prints can't be preserved in their 'original' form. They have to be translated to a new form to become archival. An exposed negative can't be preserved in its original form. It must be developed, stopped and fixed before it can be viewed without destroying the integrity of the image. I no longer see a difference between those two processes. I'm done thinking I must find a way to recreate the exact feel and texture of my anthotypes when I print out the scans. Those scans are my result, not the original paper. I may still want that feeling of heavy paper and painted pigment, but it isn't intrinsically required in order to make my anthotype 'real'.
I'm done with a piece when I say I'm done. If I go three steps further before realizing I was done four steps ago, that's my choice. As long as I have a record of the step where the image was finished, I have my piece.