A Bleached and Toned Cyanotype

Another cyanotype of the stack of tape, this time bleached and toned in tannin


sonny rosenberg

1/12/20230 min read

The experiments continue. I had hoped that I could successfully bleach and tone a cyanotype. I'm not sure that I'd call this success but I'm getting closer.

My attempts to tone in coffee and tea have been utterly disastrous, yet I know that's possible because I've seen the beautiful results that others have achieved with toning. I think my main problem with all the toners I've tried is the loss of contrast through the bare paper and highlight areas being affected by the toner. I know that I've seen great results using the same paper that I've been using (Fabriano Artistico Hot Press) and the toners that I've tried. Maybe the recipe for Artistico has changed?

I think my next experiments will be to try toning tests on different papers and then try some cyanotype exposures with other papers.

For this fabulously meaningful exposure of the stack of tape, I exposed and developed it as usual, then after a few days I soaked it in water and bleached it in a dilute sodium carbonate solution, even reducing the bleach strength from 8g/L to 4g/L the bleaching was very fast, although not instantaneous as it had been before.

After bleaching and washing, I toned this one in a wine tannin solution for about a half an hour. I think the toning took well to this one. Unfortunately I lost a lot of the highlights as well, so I tried spot bleaching with Sodium Carbonate. That didn't phase the purple black from the tannin toning one little iota, whatever it is that tannin replaces the iron in a cyanotype with, that stuff is sturdy!

I washed it again and a day later I spot bleached it with full strength household bleach (sodium hypochlorite), this did have an effect although limited. Even applying straight bleach to the highlights and border I couldn't get a great a very strong lightening effect.

What you see below is the result. I find it interesting that immediately after toning the dark areas were definitely a deep purplish black as the print aged (even before bleaching) it turned more of a blackish, purplish brown.

I may never figure this out, but I'll keep trying.

The bleached and toned stack of tape cyanotype