Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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Opium Cyanotype Experiments: Crackers

This summer I'm concocting experiments in my studio (currently my bedroom with floor-to-ceiling windows), to take advantage of China's clear skies. These images have been brewing for quite some time.

They're the first part of a series on China and America that touch on what we go through as we grow up: sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll. Part 1 is drugs. Opium, mostly. A drug which caused friction between our countries that lingers in the mind of many today.

Here for the first time are some of my works-in-progress. Some I've rejected like those below, but shots of them illustrate aspects of Cyanotype printing that give ideas for further experiments.

I cut Xuan paper into words that formed the shape of a 19th century porcelain hookah, manufactured in China for export.

Crackers in a row 2

I improvised Chinese characters out of crackers from a local store. They form words about escapism, running away, fleeing. Something that any addiction provides, like mine to travel:

Crackers and paper
and added sunflower seeds, a favorite drinking snack around here:

Seeds and Crackers
While this won't make it to the final series, forming and printing the shapes was a good experiment for future work.

It's been half a year since I last had the space to print Cyanotypes, during a residency at USM Malaysia. I'm excited to be printing again, and will begin part 2 of this series – paintings – during a residency in Yunnan this fall.

Find out more about Cyanotypes in this how-to post.

More images from this series in the Flickr set

Intro to the series.

Part 2 of the series: The Barbarians


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