Photographs by Frank

23 May 2020

Cyanotype on Vellum Backed with Copper Leaf

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Cyanotype — Frank @ 10:00 AM

Back in early April, when I started making cyanotypes again one of the papers I tried out was a cotton vellum I had lying around. I thought it might be interesting to layer the translucent vellum on top of other materials.

I was aware of Dan Burkholder’s work where he backs prints on vellum with gold leaf and thought that maybe his methods would work with cyanotypes. I signed up for Dan’s “Inkjet Alternatives Workshop” which was scheduled for the end of April. Of course, given the current state of the world the workshop was cancelled.

However, the Burkholder’s recently began selling a kit for gilding prints so I bought a kit to experiment with. I figured that a workshop would have been ideal but that the kit would get me started. I was intending to learn the materials and method with inkjet prints before moving onto cyanotypes.

However, as I went to start experimenting with the kit at the beginning of the week, I said to myself… “Self, why not just try with cyanotypes.” So I did!

I chose an image of the Cape d’Or light in Nova Scotia made with my camera obscura for this test. The negative is 4.5 inches square.

After a delay of a couple of days during which I made a stock of cyanotypes to experiment with, I began the gilding process on Wednesday. I had my first finished glided (using copper leaf) cyanotype by late yesterday (i.e. Friday) evening. The image is 4.5 inches square and it is mounted in an 8×10 inch mat.

Here it is, although I don’t think that the scans do it justice:

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Final Product (matted)
Final Product (matted)

It has a few flaws which I can hopefully avoid with the next one but it is, I think, not half bad for a first attempt!


  1. good work, frank – could you do a demo at a future cico meeting?

    Comment by William R Dixon — 23 May 2020 @ 3:07 PM

  2. It’s so exciting to see you take off running with the process, Frank. Thanks for mentioning the fragile nature of the metal leaf. We’re switching over to patent leaf (the leaf is gently bonded to a tissue transfer sheet) for all the various metals to make the gilding even easier. Can’t wait to see more of your gilded work!

    Comment by Dan Burkholder — 23 May 2020 @ 5:40 PM

  3. Gorgeous warm tones in those waters by the rocks. So many possibilities seem to be available with this process, what fun!

    Comment by Vaune Trachtman — 23 May 2020 @ 6:09 PM

  4. Not half-bad? How about pretty damn good, instead? Perhaps, email the instructor about doing that workshop online? I’m sure he would have a few pointers for you and you’d be able to ask questions as well.

    glad to see your retirement time is being put to good use!

    Comment by Joe Kennedy — 24 May 2020 @ 8:21 AM

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