Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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Wherever I live, I pick up potential printing materials and test them.

I can guess what something will look like, but every potential printing object is a wild card. You never know quite how it will look, once sandwiched between iron salts and perspex.

Here in Penang, there are festivals year-round, and plenty of paper to decorate or to burn for Chinese celebrations. Like this one:

paper lace

Once printed, it looks like a doily from my Grandmother’s table. The stripe effect comes from my varied printing times: about 5 minutes for each exposure. This is to determine the ideal printing time for each object.

Cyanotype test: chinese paper circle design

Another eye-catching paper design is this one, in red and gold:

red and gold paper people

Printed and folded, the layers give an illusion of depth. I’m going to play with this one a lot in coming weeks:

Cyanotype test: blue paper people

The printed characters and features come through, particularly in more exposed areas:

Cyanotype test: Blue face angled

A test with paper cut-outs combined with Mehndi stencils (from Little India in George Town, Penang). Varying exposure times combined with gradation of water added make for a complicated image.

Cyanotype test: mehndi hands and chinese paper

Three Mehndi stencils are made of various plastics, so reflect light and print differently:

hand tests

With a long exposure (nearly 30 mins), ink on this Chinese paper begins to print beautifully:

Cyanotype test: chinese paper print

This sharp print on cheap paper

chinese paper goddess red

becomes much softer in blue and white:

Cyanotype test: chinese paper goddesss blue

And the details of this Muslim cloth are incredibly sharp.

Cyanotype test: blue malay cloth

This week I will take these materials, and others – elaborate fly-swatters, children’s knit caps – and begin to make something from them.

Something inspired by Penang.

More images coming soon.

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