|The finished Egg|
Fortunately, you can wipe a cyanotype. Well, sorta. I bathed the egg in a borax solution, which reduced the blue cyanotype to yellow. Then I just coated over the yellow image. The original image is still there, it just isn't visible. If this egg was placed in tannic acid, the original image would re-appear... so whoever ends up with this egg shouldn't try dunking it in tea or coffee.
I'm not sure that I really enjoy printing on eggs. The initial coating is a pain in the butt, and wastes a ton of chemistry. But, after that, it really isn't that bad. The second time around, I accelerated the coating process using a hair dryer on cool to help each layer of chemistry dry. Eggshell may not be the best surface; it seems to naturally resist chemistry in certain places. It may have some kind of residual coating, or simply have surface defects. On smaller eggs, dipping may be possible, but honestly I want to avoid that because of the sheer amount of chemistry required. If working cyanotype solution could be stored long-term, it'd be different... but it goes bad too quickly, and I don't use much on a regular basis. Possibly when I get into serious production mode on my grant, I'll make up a big batch and dip some eggs.
Once everything was coated, I used the same packing-tape-negative method that I do to print on bones, and it was quite effective. The leaves are from Carolina Geraniums, which are little weeds that grow everywhere. I like the intricate leaf shape. There were a few extra leaves left over, so I'm drying them in contact frames. Might use some of the smaller ones for jewelry, and some of the larger ones for the grant prints.
Exposure on a three dimensional object is always challenging, especially when you want even lighting on both sides. The first time, I tried rotating the egg on a stand, but I the second managed to rig a wire through the egg and hang it out to expose. The hanging method seems a lot better, especially since I can hang it just out of direct sunlight and it gets a much more even exposure. I still went out and turned the egg after an hour, then let it have the rest of evening (2.5 hours more) on the other side.
Developing the egg is actually very simple. The shell doesn't really hold onto chemistry, so it develops very quickly, no extended rinses necessary. Afterwards, I found rubbing hydrogen peroxide on with a paper towel to be effective the first time, but the second I just dunked the egg into water and added the peroxide to be sure I didn't miss any spots.
I finally gave the egg a short dunk in borax, just to clear the highlights a bit and add contrast. A few seconds only, then a thorough rinse to remove any borax clinging to the surface. I got the idea from the first time I bleached the egg clean; as soon as it went into the bath the few leaf-prints that had manifested cleaned up and gained more contrast, while the blues only faded a tiny bit. So I made use of that on the finished egg. A little more of the underlaying texture showed up after the bleaching, but I don't mind it at all.
So, overall, the results were encouraging. Despite initially poor results, I was able to clearly identify the problem and correct it. It was absolutely a result of insufficient exposure on the first run, classic issue and easy to fix. First run, it was outside for an hour total. Today it went out at 3:30 PM and is still outside, enjoying the longer evening sunlight. Even better, today was overcast and the light was extremely diffuse. That will counteracted the one-sided issue I ran into last time.
So, let's look at photos of the first exposure run? Yes, let's! Even though the result was flawed, they give a good sense of the process I went through. Unfortunately, I did not record the egg hanging from its wire on the second exposure. You'll just have to imagine it.
First Coat, Still Wet
Coated and Dried
First Latent Image
Developed First Result
And that's how it was done! I much prefer the final result (image at top!) to the first run. It was fun writing this all out, Spiders. I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoy trying something new and challenging! I've also been making more of my regular parchment prints, and I'll have to scan those soon. So far, nothing crazy or innovative. Just refining my existing techniques and starting to work on the grant. It should be great!