Creating Cyanotypes with UV Light


During winter in this part of world it’s a bit difficult to produce Cyanotype prints. Although using a UV box it makes it possible. Nonetheless they’re quite expensive to purchase one. My little project for Christmas artwork workshop, I’m going to try using a Nail Dryer. Yep a nail dryer!

These devices emit UV light albeit its limited to a small area. It should be enough for making Photograms or 10x15cm prints for Christmas card. That’s my goal (if doesn’t work out I guess one of my lovely daughters shall receive a new gift for Christmas!).

Experimenting with the mini UV source

Cyanotypes made with UV from a Nail Dryer
Cyanotypes made with UV from a Nail Dryer


Today the Nail Dryer arrived. It has the added advantage of a timer built-in 30/60/90 seconds. I’m not sure at this stage of course how along the exposure will take, if it works at all.

I also looked into this project using UV tubes in an old flat bed scanner –

(If the Nail Dryer works, I guess I can build the same project will LED UV modules.)

Cyanotypes made with UV from a Nail Dryer
Cyanotypes made with UV from a Nail Dryer

The results of the experience proved the light source indeed work very well. Even with a exposure of just 60 seconds! if produced good Cyanotype. However there’s a catch!

The light source isn’t exactly even with the shape of the domed nail dryer makes the image out of focus in places. It’s not really stable enough to ensure an even print! But it doesn’t work. The question is it usable or not?

Cyanotypes made with UV from a Nail Dryer
Cyanotypes made with UV from a Nail Dryer

Building a UV LED light box for Cyanotype and lumen printing

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UV lightbox, Mark II. The first major change was using a premade wooden box instead of building a two part box myself. Makes construction faster, easier and looks better too. This box is made to A4 size and very cheap on eBay, though ideally it would be ~4cm larger. The second big change is cooling of the LEDs. Previously I used a pair of 4cm fans to draw air through the case which was insufficient for continuous use over long periods. This time I'm trying two giant heatsinks, each 10x15cm I'm size. They certainly heat up very well so evidently drawing slot of heat for the LEDs. Pondering whether it needs fans on the heat sinks too. Very pleased with the result overall. Made a big difference having two lightboxes at the last cyanotype workshop I ran as attendees spent less time waiting to expose. #uvlightbox #uvled #alternativephotographyprocess #cyanotype #alternativephotography

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Christmas Clipart

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