DIY Cyanotype Prints

DIY Cyanotype Prints

As the sun starts coming out again, now would be a great time to try your hand at making cyanotype prints! Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that uses UV light from the sun to create prints. These prints turn out blue at first, but the color can also be changed to yellow or sepia. This workshop will show you how to make your own prints of plants, feathers, knickknacks, and more!


  • What you need:
    • Cyanotype paper
    • Items to print with
      • Examples include: flowers, leaves, seashells, stones, fossils, feathers, seeds, nuts, paper cutouts, jewelry, tools, drawings on a clear surface
    • 3 tablespoons Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)
    • 5 bags of black tea
    • Water
    • 3 bowls or trays
    • Gloves
  • Optional
    • A transportable flat surface for easily moving the print
      • Examples include: a piece of cardboard, a cutting board
    • A clear layer to hold items down
      • Examples include: glass pane from a picture frame, cling wrap pinned down with thumbtacks

Instructions for a Cyan Print

  1. In a place without direct sunlight, take out a sheet of cyanotype paper and lay it down. It is helpful to set it on a transportable flat surface, such as a cutting board.
  2. Lay selected items to print such as stones, flowers or leaves in pattern on the cyanotype paper (see materials section for a more complete list of examples and ideas).
  3. If your items are at risk of blowing away, cover the print with something clear, such as a pane of glass from a picture frame, or a sheet of cling wrap that’s pinned down with thumbtacks.
  4. Leave in sunlight for 5-20 minutes. The longer you expose the paper, the more blue it will be. As it exposes, the paper will turn light blue.
  5. Rinse in cold water for 5 minutes away from direct sunlight. The blue will begin to darken, and it will darken more as it dries.
  6. Let dry and enjoy! It is now safe to expose the print to sunlight.

Instructions for a Yellow Print

  1. First, create a cyan print as described above. You do not need to wait for it to dry.
  2. Prepare the Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) solution. Use gloves when handling the TSP.
    1. Fill a large bowl with a gallon of water.
    2. Add 3 tablespoons of TSP to the water.
    3. Stir until the TSP has dissolved.
  3. Soak the print in the TSP solution for 15 minutes. The print will turn yellow.
  4. Remove the print from the TSP solution and rinse it with cold water for 1 minute.
  5. Let dry and enjoy!

Instructions for a Sepia Print

  1. First, create a yellow print as described above. You do not need to wait for it to dry.
  2. Create a bath of black tea.
    1. In a large bowl or tray, steep 5 bags of black tea in 6 cups of freshly boiled water for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Place the print in the tea bath and allow it to soak for 10 minutes. The print will begin to turn a dark brown.
  4. Remove the print from the tea bath and rinse it with cold water for a minute.
  5. Let dry and enjoy!

Feel free to post a picture with #IRLmade or shoot us an email. We would love to see your work!

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Isabella Johnson
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