Reply To: Tips for Gyotaku printing and Cyanotypes

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Jacqueline Chiu

Hi Claudia!

Three tips for you:

– keep the fish as dry as you can
– careful around the eyes
– if you can, gently moisten the paper or fabric, to make it softer and more pliable

The drier the fish is, most you’ll print ink, rather than fish juice.

You can use a brush to apply inks, including waterbased, india inks, etc. This would be the traditional method, but there is a ‘speed’ element to it.

If you’re using thinned oil based inks, rub it all over your fish, and then remove excess with kitchen roll before taking the print. One inked fish will usually yield 2 or 3 prints per inking, and often the second one is clearer than the first. Depending on the flatness or roundness of your fish, it may be easier to press fish onto paper, or to press paper onto fish. Cut up test squares to see which method works best for you.

Lisa is right, if you’re going to make cyanotypes, you’ll need to try transparent materials. If you do not have acetate, you could try:
– cellophane – the plastic that you might already have from packaging is a good re-use option
– cut up a freezer bag or similar
– overhead transparencies – these are a bit more robust and can be reused but will not mould to your fish as easily as the other two

In both these cases this would work better with oil based inks, and if the image is not what you want the first time around, you can always wipe off and start again!

Let us know how you go, and if you ever want to simul-print with me, we can set up a Teams/Collab ULTRA session.