Mad Scientess Jane Expat (nanila) wrote,
Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Day 63/183: Anthotypes

A couple of days ago, the children picked a mass of wild garlic so that we could try cha_mel_eon’s technique for making anthotypes. The choice of plant material is the first deviation from her method, as she used wild spinach. The effect of this difference will become apparent later. Be grateful that this post doesn’t involve smell-o-vision as the whole process reeked. The smell of wild garlic is much more powerful than the taste, but this doesn’t help when you aren’t eating it.

Ingredients and tools:
  • Phone camera
  • Wild garlic, approx 50 g
  • Vodka, approx 30 mL
  • Hand blender and jug
  • Bowl, teaspoon, and fine sieve
  • Brush (calligraphy style)
  • Two sheets of sketch paper
  • Two empty picture frames
  • Direct sunlight
  • Time
Wild garlic collection.

Five or six child-sized fistfuls of wild garlic leaves in the hand blender’s jug.

This photo elides the not-insignificant amount of time I spent working out how much vodka to add. In her video, cha_mel_eon uses the cap of her vodka bottle to measure out a dose. What I failed to clock at first, though, was that she was using a small bottle, which incongruously has a larger cap than the full-sized bottle of vodka I was using. I ended up putting in three capfuls to keep the hand blender from repeatedly objecting. It’s also possible that the wild garlic is both more fibrous and less succulent than wild spinach and therefore more liquid was required. Eventually, the puree was sufficiently smooth to begin liquid extraction.

Extracting the liquid from the slime using a fine sieve and the back of a teaspoon.

A surprising quantity of green liquid (about 50 mL).

I think I have some watercolour paper somewhere, as suggested by cha_mel_eon, but I don’t know where it is, so I opted for this sketch paper. I remember using this in a Japanese brush-painting class that I took whilst at university, more years ago than I care to think about. Tangentially, this is one of the things I appreciate in hindsight about the American style of four-year undergraduate degree courses: the freedom to select whatever electives you wish, even if they’re totally unrelated to your major. I took full advantage of that.

I decided to experiment by using the rough side for one anthotype, and the smooth side for the other. Smooth is on the left, rough is on the right.

Another deviation in choice of materials. cha_mel_eon used a foam brush to apply her wild spinach emulsion. I couldn’t find any foam brushes. I know we have some, but they’re on the children’s crafting table which is a disaster area I’m currently unable to face sorting out. I dug out this Japanese calligraphy brush out instead. It heralds from the same era as the paper (the 1990s).

First coat done. Side note: If you’re using wild garlic emulsion on a wooden table, I recommend putting some newspaper underneath the paper medium, as the table still smells of garlic despite repeated scrubbing.

Two coats done.

Three coats done.

All four coats applied and dried, ready to mount and expose, as recommended by cha_mel_eon. There’s still some emulsion left, which was put in a tupperware container and stored in the fridge.

On the smooth paper, an ornamental poppy leaf, a flowering dead-nettle, and an ivy leaf.

On the rough paper, a carefully pruned branch of ivy and a variegated evergreen leaf.

One of the empty picture frames.

Rough paper, mounted.

Exposure begins.

1 hour of exposure. Not much visible difference between the smooth and the rough paper, and the ivy leaf - the driest thing on the smooth paper - remains in place.

2 hours of exposure. The smooth paper is now visibly bleaching much faster. The ivy leaf on it has slipped, probably due to the dripping of excess moisture as the “wet” plant material sweats in the sun.

In between this and the subsequent shot, I cut the bloke’s hair.

3 hours of exposure. The “dry” leaves on the rough paper are going black. There is a lot of shrinkage in the “wet” material. I moved the frames because the hedgerow was beginning to shade them, as you can see above.

3.5 hours of exposure. Photo taken just before bringing the smooth-paper anthotype inside. I left the rough-paper one to bake for another half an hour.

The finished product (smooth side of paper, “wet” plant matter), after 3.5 hours of exposure on a very warm sunny day.

  1. The smooth side of the paper yielded faster, higher contrast results.
  2. The rough side of the paper yielded more interesting background patterns from the brush strokes, which could be an advantage with a careful choice of materials. Or rendered irrelevant with longer exposure.
  3. The moisture from the wet material didn’t seem to affect the finished product.
  4. I should have left both of them out a little longer to achieve a more uniform background, especially the rough paper, but I was put off by the severe shrinkage of the plant material, and the slippage of the ivy leaf. More secure backings for the picture frames might help with this next time.

I have sufficient wild garlic emulsion to make one more anthotype from this batch. I think I’ll use it to try the “dry” materials on the smooth paper, to see if I like the results better.

Finally, below is the YouTube instruction video for creating anthotypes from cha_mel_eon, which is about six minutes long.

This entry was originally posted at The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.
Tags: art, atmfhm, chemistry, garden, photo, photography, project, project: 183 posts
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