Cyanograph Quilt

For the past year, Melanie and I have been making cyanographs. We bought a supply of pre-treated 8×10″ sheets of cloth and made sunprints with them. They’re available from Dick Blick art supplies. The process was invented in 1842 by Sir John Herschel. He was experimenting with the effect of sunlight on iron (ferrous) compounds. He found sunlight turned ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide a cyan blue color. Artistic and practical applications of the process soon followed.

Our pre-treated sheets were placed on a firm surface. Leaves and grasses were placed on the sheet. Clear plexiglass over them kept the objects in place if there was a breeze. The arrangement was put in direct sunlight for 5 minutes. The cloth was then washed and rinsed by hand in the sink. It was then set out to dry leaving the shadows white or nearly white.  Click to embiggen.

During COVID confinement, I needed something more to do to pass the time. Melanie is a fabulous quilter. Her works are intricate and beautiful artistic expressions. I thought about making a small quilt with the cyanograph sheets. As a bonus, I had the ideal teacher to guide me along the way.

I selected 6 cyanograph panels to use, some print fabric to serve as frames for each, a blue border to surround everything, and a fabric to serve as the binding around the outside edge. At each step along the way, Melanie showed me the techniques to use and let me go.

Straight line sewing is not too hard. I was most intimidated by the long-arm quilting machine needed for the process of quilting together the front and back fabrics with batting sandwiched between. Here is the ‘beast’ poised over a quilt top of Melanie’s. It weighs in at about 40 pounds. The fabric is put on rollers. The machine is driven around over it to make the designs you want sewn into the fabric. Easier said than done. I have a much greater appreciation for Melanie’s skill.

I am pleased with the finished product. It is about 36″ x 24″. It will be hung on my office wall. It still needs a name. Any suggestions?

15 thoughts on “Cyanograph Quilt

  1. When my son was in grade school, the kids made panels from leaves. My job was to set them together and quilt a good-sized hanging–by hand! Wonder where it is now. It was fun to work on. (I still prefer hand-work.)

  2. I’d call it “Unbound.” There’s a quilting reference there, of course. Also, in the autumn, leaves become unbound from their trees, and it provided a way for you to escape the bounds of our Covid confinement!

  3. I help my Bride with setting up her quilting table and long-arm machine. It’s impressive stuff and needs a lot of skill and dedication to operate. Well done you for having a go and achieving a good result. I’ll just stick to my telescope.

  4. Very creative. You also could gently dye the fabric a second color to complement the blue. That might be interesting – yellow, brown, green or perhaps red.

  5. Interesting and very effective – you must be pleased. Thanks for the idea too. I’ve done paper sun prints but hadn’t realised there was a fabric option out there.

  6. Awesome quilt! Lisa was impressed as well, (also loved the look of Melanie’s long arm machine). Thanks for giving the make of the fabric sheets you used, we are looking into tracking some down.

    • Thank you. And, yes, that machine is something. Melanie is down there now driving it around her latest creation. I hope you can find those sheets. You can also buy the chemicals and make your own prepared fabrics and materials.

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