The Super Screen Pittosporum is my absolute favourite plant for making cyanotype photograms. FYI, please don’t ask me to say Pittosporum unless, of course, you need a laugh. I find it a little difficult to say.
Firstly, cyanotype is a photographic blueprint.
A photogram is a picture produced using light-sensitive paper without a camera.
I use the Jacquard Cyanotype kit as you just add water to the chemicals in the kit and then mix equal quantities when you are ready to use. You then coat your paper of choice, while it is drying, and collect clippings of pittosporum from the garden to use to make photograms.
There is something about the shape of the leaves on the pittosporum I just cannot explain but it is my constant go-to when making cyanotypes. The long spindly branches, leaves, and the shadows that the plant casts are what I am trying to re-create in my cyanotype works.
The Pittosporum has been used many times when I am creating cyanotype as it is so accessible. My husband has planted lots of these in our garden. The plants are so tall now that I have to be very strategic when taking clipping. Using a step stool so that I don’t only take it from where I can reach, otherwise, it starts to look a little bit odd. I like the plant so much that I used the technique to create the pattern on the fabric to make a dress. I have worn this dress several times. I love it.
Many different papers have been used to create my cyanotype photograms. The Hahnemuehle warm white 300gsm printmaking paper is my paper of choice when I am focusing on doing multiple exposures as the lovely yellow ochre that can come through underneath the rich blue in the top layer can create some interesting effects. I use a watercolour paper 300gsm or heavier with a bit of texture when I am working on a larger scale and the outcome is to create layering without re-coating the paper. This requires timing and strategic placement of foliage to have various blue tones in the cyanotype. I have also used Magnani Etrusca 600gsm which works beautifully. The paper has some lovely texture and is so very strong, good for multiple exposures as well. A good drawing paper of approximately 220gsm can work well for doing smaller works and experimenting.
I have learned that everything makes a difference. The sun, the time of day, and the type of paper and weight of paper can all bring different results. But what I love about this process nothing is wasted or wrong. You can re-coat and do multiple exposures or use as base for another project. You always learn something from a day in the sunshine making cyanotype photograms.