I mentioned to a friend that I was going to make cyanotypes with lace for a change and a few days later she arrived at the house with a bag containing some antique lace handkerchiefs, a brides veil and a baby's christening gown. She asked me to make some cyanotype prints of the items. What an exciting prospect!
I am not a sentimental person and I have no personal connection to my friend's objects but I was surprised to find myself feeling quite emotional when the first print of one of the handkerchiefs was completed. I began to think about the history of the handkerchief, Belgian linen and lace, with the words "Sovenir de Bruges" embroidered on the corner. Who might have bought it? Was it a souvenir for themselves or a gift for a loved one back at home? It's still in it's original gift box and the folds are visible in the cyanotype print. I thought about ironing them out but was afraid of damaging the handkerchief and felt that it would be removing part of it's history by doing so.
Now I have started work on the christening gown. It's so beautiful and very delicate, over 90 years old, and I am wary of exposing it to too much UV light. These will be the largest cyanotype pieces I have ever made and there are many challenges to overcome. My largest sheet of paper is 56 x 76 cm and the gown only just fits on the paper. I don't have a tray large enough to rinse paper of this size so I'm having to use the shower. The clothes airer is only just big enough for me to hang the damp prints on to dry. I love a challenge! My first attempts have been very successful and I'm very excited to show them to my friend.
This project has opened up a whole new world and my brain is now whirring with ideas and new possibilities to explore. I'll keep you posted...