Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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Opium Cyanotypes (part 1)

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

Years, actually.

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

Here for the first time I'll show some of my works-in-progress. Some I've rejected, but shots of them will illustrate aspects of Cyanotype printing that give ideas for further experiments. Others will I think make the final cut.

They range in size from 2.5 x 3 feet to 2.5 x 6 feet, all on textured cotton from Yunnan, China.

Hanging prints


These are first painted in a dim room late at night. The chemicals are a light yellowish color, and it's difficult to see what will actually print when I expose them to sunlight the next day.

Detail of opium pipe: 

Pipe detail

Words cut from Xuan paper, used as negatives for the print:

Pipe Letters

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 this Flickr set


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