The myth: Don’t use a brush with a metal ferrule to coat your cyanotype paper! True or not? Malin Fabbri finds out combining cyanotype and rust in a rusty old can.
It has been said that a brush with a metal ferrule cannot be used for coating cyanotypes, because the metal on the brush may react with the cyanotype chemicals somehow combining cyanotypes and rust. True or false?
Taking this myth to the extreme, 4 sets of solutions were prepared.
- Using glass bowls for mixing the chemicals and a hake brush.
- Using glass bowls and a brush with a metal ferrule.
- Mixing the chemicals in a rusty jar.
- Mixing the chemicals in a rusty jar and leaving the mixed solution in the rust for 24 hours before coating the paper.
Coating the papers, the solution C from the rusty jar was slightly greener than A and B from the glass bowls. Solution D that had been left in the rusty jar for 24 hours was dark green, almost blue when coated onto paper. Clearly, a reaction had taken place.
A negative and a Stouffer step wedge were used to make four prints. The prints using solution A (top image) and B from the glass bowl and solution C from the rusty jar were almost identical. But, the print using solution D that had been sitting in the rusty jar for 24 hours was quite different (bottom image). The highlights had oxidized and turned blue.
True or false? The conclusion: False! Though a rusty jar is not recommended when mixing chemicals – a brush with a metal ferrule can be used with no harm. If there is a reaction with cyanotypes and rust, it is too small to be noticeable.
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All you need to get started with cyanotypes, full of information, tips and samples from artists.
An excellent beginners’ guide to cyanotypes!