This Sun Printing workshop introduced participants to photographic history and some of the pioneering women who advanced photography as an art form. We created images utilizing these early historical processes, composing the prints with plants and personal objects to make cyanotypes, lumen prints, and a collodion wet-plate tintype. Cyanotype photography was invented in 1842 and produced a cyan-blue print. It was initially used for science to create reproducible blueprints and technical drawings. Cyanotypes are made when an object is placed on light-sensitized paper and exposed to the sun, producing an image in optimal circumstances within 15 mins. The botanist Anna Atkins pioneered cyanotype photography, and her 1843 book is thought to be the first-ever illustrated with photographic images. Her poetic placement of plants elevated her cyanotypes to art objects. Her work has been widely exhibited and inspires artists to this day. We created cyanotypes on cloth and paper. We experimented with coating other substrates such as tea bags, coffee filters, magazine pages, postcards, and canvas.

We created lumen prints, also known as photograms, using black-and-white photo darkroom paper outside in the sun. This process is similar to the cyanotype and works exceedingly well when live plants and flowers are used - as heat from the organic matter reacts to the sun and the paper to give unpredictable and surprising results. A few students experimented with photography negatives and drawings. A lumen print needs an hour or more in the sun to develop the image.

The wet-plate process, invented in 1851, is labor intensive. We experienced the workflow of making a tintype and using a cumbersome 4x5 view camera. Another artist helped teach that day, and though it was dark and raining, we were able to make a tintype of our group. It was a 30-second exposure, but the ladies stood pretty still and experienced first-hand the trials and limitations of an early photography process.

Our final party was so much fun! It was nice to see women from earlier classes and many new faces. Councilman Ari Kagan even made an appearance and told some great stories. I will miss all of the friends I made during this workshop.