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Cyanotype Work by UW-Madison Artist Cid Freitag

“Waiting for a Train,” Cid Freitag, DoIT Academic Technology. (Click to enlarge)

What does the above image have to do with Radioactive?  Simple: it’s another example of cyanotype, the technique used to create the unique colors, look and feel of the book.  This gorgeous piece was created by Cid Freitag, a Senior Learning Technology Consultant at UW-Madison’s own DoIT Academic Technology.  The aesthetic is decidedly different from that created by Lauren Redniss in Radioactive, demonstrating the diverse array of effects cyanotype can produce. Simpler cyanotype processes are even accessible to children (with
careful supervision), and we’ll be featuring a series about cyanotype this year. 

Below, Cid elaborates on her process using “1980s technology – a combination of darkroom and professional graphic arts equipment.” 

Process used to create “Waiting for a Train.”  (Cid Freitag, 1988)

  • 35mm black and white negatives enlarged and printed on Kodalith at intended final size.
  • Developed with FineLine developer, which gave a mezzotint-like texture.
  • Using a punch-registry system, the Kodalith positives assembled into place in carrier sheets.
  • Unwanted parts of each positive covered with masking paper or paintable opaque.
  • Final negative produced by compositing the positives using the punch-registry system and contact printing vacuum frame.
  • Cyanotype emulsion (ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide) applied to Rives BFK paper.
  • Cyanotype exposed with carbon arc lamp in contact printing vacuum frame.
  • Exposure approximately five minutes.