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The Cyanotype Conspiracy vs Epson

When we determined our Epson 1270 printer was no longer going to work for us due to Mac OS upgrades (Thanks for not updating your drivers, Epson...) we were thrilled a to find an Epson CX7400 we could use. Thrilled, at least until we tried to use it. Though we'd purchased new ink and run a paper text, when we tried to print at transparency the film just zipped through the printer and didn't print.

We checked Epson's site and got the shortest answer we'd ever seen.

The heck with them, we thought. We taped our transparency to a sheet of white paper. After a few failures we tried scotch tape all the way across the leading edge and it worked! Take that, Epson.
We made a new test negative, coated some paper and discovered we're near the right settings with our curves. We were, however, surprised to discover that at noon in February on an slightly overcast day our exposure was still around 7 to 8 minutes. We expected longer.


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Yellow stain on cyanotypes. Problem solved!

At last, a problem with a solution. When we first started coating paper with our own cyanotype chemistry we were getting bad yellow stains. It turns out there are two ways to combat the ugly yellow. One is to add citric acid to to the first water bath when developing the print. The easier way is to add a bit to the sensitizer chemistry itself. We'd done that, but it turned out we hadn't been adding enough. So now, the yellow you see in the above print is a thing of the past. One problem solved, eight zillion to go.

Hello Cyanotype, meet Hydrogen Peroxide

You've exposed your cyanotype print and it just looks weird. You put it in a tray of water, and it looks better after a while, but still not all that wonderful. You dry it and wait three days for it to oxidize, or you could do something really fun: drop it into a tray of water with a little hydrogen peroxide. Be sure so say "Bam!"

Cyanotype Success at last

I think we're on the right road at last. We've made several changes to get to this point. Using the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 helped. It's the first printer that didn't fight us every step of the way with software issues, density problems, refusal to feed transparency material and clogged jets.

Having a printer we could trust let us get our adjustment curves closer to right than they've ever been.

We also made a few changes to our procedure. We gave up on coating with a rod. We just couldn't get the dark blue we wanted. Now we use a sponge brush. We coat, dry a while and coat again. It may use more chemistry, but it seems to be working.

We had a mental breakthrough on drying coated paper as well. We'd been letting it sit, but today we hung it on a line. It dried with less puddling, and a lot more quickly as well.

We'd been using a small contact frame. It worked, but it meant we could only expose one sheet at a time. We liberated a flat board, found some fo…