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Fabriano Unica Printmaking Paper

Our current favourite paper at Paper-works* for most printmaking is Fabriano Unica paper. It is made of 50% cotton, and has been specifically developed to be suitable for all printmaking techniques. The paper is a combination of the many years experience of the Fabriano paper mills and a collaboration with a group of artists from the Opificio della Rosa , an international centre dedicated to the awareness and spread of traditional and innovative methods of printmaking.

The artists from Opificio della Rosa have tested the paper with a host of printing, engraving and other techniques, testing it to its limits. The paper  has a weight of 250g/sqm and is economically priced and available in white and cream in three different sizes: 50cmx 70cm , 56cm x 76 cm and 70cm x 100cm.

Individual sheets of Fabriano Unica are available for purchase from paper-works* by those attending workshops or members open days

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Editioning by paper-works*

Paper-works* editioning work for one of our members.

Tessa Newcomb came to us wanting to produce an edition of a set of prints. She had in the past executed traditional acid etched prints with the assistance of a print studio but now wanted to revisit producing prints using new techniques.  After a day in the studio on one of our “Introduction to Drypoint” courses, she decided on using drypoint card as her preferred media and went away clutching a stack of materials.

The following week, Tessa returned on one of our members days, with twenty or so card drypoint plates. A busy morning ensued assisted by us to produce proofs of all of the prints.

We set out all the proofs in the studio. Working together with Tessa, we discussed the options for whitling the wide selection of images down to a set for editioning. Being executed on drypoint card there was a concern that any edition should be reasonably short to avoid deterioration of the plate. It was decided to go with limiting each edition to twenty. After much discussion four prints were selected as the basis of the editions.

The chosen images required some care with wiping during the inking up process as residual tone on the plate was a desired feature for parts of the image. To help keep the prints clean we decided that editioning would be a two person task. One person inking up and wiping and the other staying ink free and registering and passing the prints though the press. We estimated that we might achieve an average print rate over a day of about 6 an hour. In the end with cups of tea and biscuits! ) we achieved the full edition of 80 in about two and a half days

The prints are now all in a neatly arranged, weighted stack carefully sandwiched between blotting paper to dry out. Next week they will be ready for Tessa to sign and number!

If you are interested in paper-works* assisting you in editioning a print please get in touch via our contact page.

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Anna Atkins | cyanotype pioneer

Cyanotype photogram of fern by Anna Atkins

Anna Atkins (nee Children) was born in Tunbridge in Kent in 1799.  Her mother died a few months later. An only child Anna was brought up by her father. Following his example she took an interest in science and botany. She was a talented illustrator and provided the engravings for an english language translation of Jean-Baptiste de Monet Lamaercks ” Genera of Shells” which was translated by her father and published in 1823 when she was just 24. The following year she married John Pelly Atkins.

Following her marriage she continued her interest in Botany and at the age of 40 she became a member of the Botanical Society in London, one of the few scientific societies which was open to women.

Anna’s father and her husband were friends of the early photographic pioneers William Henry Fox Talbot and Sir John Herschel. Sir John Herschel invented the cyanotype process in 1842 and Anna immediately saw its potential to provide illustrations of her extensive collection of dried seaweed specimens . She self published the first part of her book “Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions” just a year later in October 1843. Handwritten and produced in very limited quantities ( just 12)  it remains an influential use of cyanotype prints and the first ever book to be illustrated with photographic images, beating William Fox Talbots first photographic book by several months.  By 1850 Anna had produced 12 additional parts to the book.

Cyanotype of Seaweed by Anna Atkins
Cyanotype of Seaweed by Anna Atkins

In 1854 working with her friend Anne Dixon she produced a further publication entitled Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns. Anna Atkins died in 1871.

Anna’s use of cyanotypes was both pioneering and inventive. Copies of her books remain in the worlds most prestigious libraries and due to there scarcity and significance have fetched over £200,000 in auction (2004).

Her work was featured in a recent exhibition at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam  entitled “New Realities Photography in the Nineteenth Century”  ( June – September 2017)

Read about the Cyanotype process


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Cyanotype Printing

Cyanotype test strips

Cyanotype Printing

Cyanotype printing is a method of image making on light sensitive paper. Unlike most photo sensitive techniques it utilises iron rather than silver based salts. It is characterised by the blue and white prints that it produces,(known as “blueprints” when used to reproduce technical drawings).

The process was invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842. His invention was initially principly taken up by botanists for the purposes of plant specimen illustration, notably Anna Atkins. Following Herschel’s death in 1871 the process was “reinvented’ and used principally as a reprographic system particularly for technical drawings up until the 1950’s. Interest in cyanotype as a photographic printing medium has grown again since the 1970’s to the present day.

Exposure times are relatively slow and the chemicals require exposure to light in the ultra violet spectrum. The long exposure times and high light levels required mean that it isn’t considered suitable for use in cameras but is instead primarily used for contact prints from negatives or direct from objects placed on the paper (photograms). Strong sunlight is an ideal light source but UV bulbs can be used as an alternative.

Preparing the photosensitive solution

The exact recipes for the photosensitive solution have varied in some respects over time. The following is a typical 20th century recipe.  Precaution:Use disposable gloves and a face mask whilst handling the powdered chemicals.

Add 25g of Ferric Ammonium Citrate to 100ml of water in a glass container

Add 10g of Potassium Ferricyanide to 100ml of water in a second glass container

The chemicals dissolve readily in cold water and are not light sensitive until they are mixed together. You will need some small electronic scales to measure the chemical quantities.

Coating your paper

You will then need to move into a photographic darkroom with a safelight or a darkened room with very low level tungsten lighting. Add each of the solutions into a third container. To enable storage of the liquid its best to use a dark brown glass jar with a light tight lid. Stir briefly to ensure both solutions have mixed together.

Now use a brush to apply the light sensitive solution to your paper. A foam brush works well. Then return any unused liquid to the dark brown storage jar and set aside your paper to dry in full darkness.( NB For longevity of the Cyanotype print its best to use a “non buffered” paper i.e. one that hasn’t had chalk/calcium carbonate added to increase its alkalinity)

Once dry keep the paper in a light tight black plastic bag or a light tight cardboard roll until required for use.

Exposure to direct Sunlight

On a bright sunny day prepare the objects, masks or drawings on acetate/tracing paper  that you want to use to create your image and get a clock or watch to hand so that you can keep an eye on the exposure time.

Remove the paper from the roll spread out in direct sunlight with the pale yellow side uppermost. Immediately work quickly placing your objects on the paper. Items placed immediately will leave white marks. Items placed later will leave marks which are  very pale blue progressively getting deeper, the later that they are placed. Areas left in full sun will be a deep blue with 3 minutes exposure to the brightest UK sunshine.

When 3 minutes is up quickly move the objects aside and put the paper back in its black plastic bag or light tight cardboard roll.

( Its useful to have created several long strips of cyanotype paper that you can use as exposure test strips , use some dark card and reveal more of the strip each 15 or 30 seconds in order to get an accurate idea of exposure times for your particular lighting conditions)


In subdued light conditions take the exposed cyanotype out of its light proof container and immediately immerse in a tray of cold water. agitate gently for several minutes. The cyanotype will reveal its characteristic cyan colouring and the water will colour slightly. Change the water for a final rinse of another couple of minutes allow excess water to drain off then place the print between two sheets of blotting paper and place under a weighted plywood board and allow to dry flat over a day or so. ( NB longevity of Cyanotype prints is increased with thorough rinsing but this should be balanced against dispersion of the blue colouring that may occur with rinsing)

Longevity of Cyanotype prints

Cyanotype prints made by Anna Atkins in the 1840s are still in existence. However some care is required for their longevity. To minimise fading of the image  take note of the following:

  • Avoid permanent display in daylight (returning prints to darkness can reverse some colour loss)
  • Rinse we’ll during processing to reduce presence of any remaining photosensitive solution or other impurities.
  • Avoid use of buffered papers ( i.e. papers incorporating chalk or calcium carbonate)
  • Do not over agitate or use running water during rinsing to minimise dispersal of the blue colour
  • The chemicals used in cyanotypes, and the use of non buffered ( i.e. neutral or slightly acidic) paper can result in brittleness of the paper substrate over time.

Read details of our next Cyanotype course.

Download Mike Ware’s authoritative book on Cyanotype









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Summer 2018 Printmaking day courses and taster mornings

summer printmaking

Paper-works* Summer 2018 Printmaking

Printmaking in a morning

To coincide with Suffolk Open Studios we are running printmaking taster sessions, 2 and a half hour morning sessions to give you a quick flavour of the different techniques. Book courses individually or choose a selection to build your own printmaking course!

All day courses are from 10am to 12.30pm. No previous experience required. Tea/coffee and all materials included. £25 All bookings on our website.

Day courses

Unleash your creativity, experiment with something different, develop a new skill and try one of our introductory printmaking courses! The day courses are held in our well equipped light filled first floor studio except the Drypoint course where in August we will be in the spacious upstairs gallery at the historic Fisher Theatre in Bungay.

All day courses are from 10am to 4pm. No previous experience required. Lunch and all materials included. £60. Bookings on our website except for the 25th August which are direct to the Fisher Theatre.


If your not local take a look at our accommodation page.


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paper-works* @ Fisher Arts and Social

Fisher Arts and Social

Great morning today with all the folks at Fisher Arts and Social Club

It was their first dabble with drypoint. Out of the block at 10.30am a quick demonstration and everyone created a print they were proud to take home. All in just two hours.

Fisher Arts and Social Club was founded by Sophie last year. They provide creative sessions for mature people and their carers. They are dementia friendly and wheelchair accessible. The group meets each Thursday morning at the Fisher Theatre in Bungay. The goal of each session is to provide the perfect mix of art, cake, friends and laughter !

Demonstrating inking up
Demonstrating inking up
Printing on the portable press
Printing on the portable press
Turning the wheel on the press
Turning the wheel on the press
Fisher Arts and Social
Inking Up drypoint at the Fisher Arts and Social Club
Fisher Arts and Social finished prints
Fisher Arts and Social finished prints

To find out more see their Facebook page

We really enjoyed the session and hope to work with them again soon.

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Spring 2018 Printmaking Day Courses

printmaking day courses

Paper-works* Spring 2018 Printmaking day courses

Unleash your creativity, experiment with something different, develop a new skill and try one of our introductory printmaking courses! Limited to just four students and held in our well equipped light filled first floor studio to make sure that you get the best out of your day.

All day courses are from 10am to 4pm. No previous experience required. Lunch and all materials included. £60.

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Pinhole Photography | what it is | a brief guide

Pinhole Photography

Pinhole photography is the term used to describe photography executed without a lens. Instead it uses the camera obscura effect where an upside down mirror image is formed on a surface in a darkened space by light passing through a small pinhole from an external scene.

Film and photographic papers

Pinhole photography can be executed onto standard photochemical film which is then processed in the normal way and prints can then be made with an enlarger. However the ability to cheaply make large format pinhole cameras makes it suitable for the creation of images directly onto black and white photographic paper. With standard photographic paper the developed image will be a mirror and a negative image. This image can be reversed by taking a contact print using a second sheet of photographic paper. The end result will be a  positive image which is also the right way round. Alternatively you can use special direct positive photographic paper. This will result in a positive image in one exposure but it will however still be a mirror image.

Pinhole cameras

One of the best things about pinhole photography is that you don’t need an expensive camera, in fact you don’t need a camera at all ! A lightproof container , a pinhole and a sheet of photographic paper is all you need!. You can use any old box, paint tin , old wardrobe, garden shed or almost anything as a pinhole camera.

Photographic results

Exposures can be worked out (a bit) but mostly its a good amount of trial and error.  The photographs that you get from a pinhole camera are very governed by the size and geometry of the light proof container you have chosen, the pinhole size, the length of the exposure and the distance from the pinhole to the photographic paper. One thing you don’t have to worry about is focussing! No lens means no need to focus , everything is in focus, you have an infinite depth of field!

The crudeness and the visual distortions of the images are all part of the pleasure of pinhole photography, something to be embraced and exploited rather than something to try and design out. It is of course possible to adapt high end digital cameras to take pinhole images but it is perhaps missing the point. Pinhole photography is not just about the technical use of a very small hole rather than a lens to create an image. It is an invitation to embrace a fun low tech way of exploring how to create photographic images !

Read about Lowestoft’s own pinhole camera hero






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George Davison –  A pinhole photography hero, millionaire and political activist from Kirkley, Lowestoft

Portrait of George Davison

A pinhole photography hero

Whilst reading about pinhole camera photography  I stumbled across Lowestoft’s own pinhole camera hero, George Davison.

George Davison

George Davison was born in Kirkley, (19 September 1855). He was the fourth child of William Davison, a shipwright and carpenter, originally from Sunderland. His mother, Eliza, (born Miller) supplemented the family income by running their home and the next door property as a boarding house. The houses numbers  36 and 37 Marine Parade still stand to this day. At the time they would have been newly constructed as part of  Morton Peto’s masterplan for Lowestoft.

George attended a local elementary school before going on to the secondary school, St John’s, Lowestoft. He continued his studies at evening classes and by the age of 20 had passed exams to enter the civil service. He moved to London in 1875 to take up a position at Somerset House.

Success as a photographer

At the age of 31 George Davison became interested in photography and joined the “New Camera Club of London” . Within a year he exhibited eight photographs in the 1886 annual exhibition for the Royal Photographic Society. This included two images of Lowestoft Harbour.

Lowestoft Harbour Entrance, George Davison
Lowestoft Harbour Entrance, George Davison

In 1887 he exhibited a further seven photographs. The next year he included a Fishing Fleet image as one of his six exhibits. In 1889 he included a photograph of Lowestoft Harbour at sunset as one of his twelve images.

By 1890 George Davison had turned away from purely naturalistic photography and begun to experiment with different techniques.  He developed an interest in the use of pinhole cameras to create more painterly and artistic effects. Using a pinhole camera he created a photograph of an old farmstead, later titled “The Onion Field” With its crude paper and strong painterly image it caused both aclaim and controversy when it was exhibited as one of 13 of his photographs at the Royal Photographic society in 1890.  As a result of the controversy George left the Royal society and co-founded “The Brotherhood of the Linked Ring “ A photographic society which was dedicated to “bringing together those who are interested in the development of the highest form of Art of which Photography is capable” The society flourished until 1910.

The onion field, George Davison
The Onion Field, George Davison

Financial success

Meanwhile George’s passion for photography had introduced him to George Eastman a successful businessman and photographer.  This allowed him to leave the civil service in 1897 and ultimately led him to a position as a director at Kodak.  One of his first projects with George Eastman  was to help popularise photography through organising an amateur photographic competition in 1897. This was a huge success attracting to the exhibition of the winning entries over 25,000 visitors  in just three weeks. George Davison continued to exhibit photographs until 1911. He remains one of the most important pre First World War British photographers.

One of George’s photographs from this period in the Kodak Collection at the National Science & Media Museum is a panoramic photograph of the Lowestoft seafront taken in 1905. Whilst not a pinhole image it was taken with a No 4 Panoram Kodak camera, (introduced in 1899) illustrating his continuing fascination with exploring new techniques.

Socialist activism

Alongside his success as a photographer George’s passion and commitment to social reforms led him to start an anarchist magazine. A step too far for Kodak, he was asked to step down from the position as director in 1908. In 1912 George retired from Kodak at the age of 58, moving to Harlech in Wales.He had commissioned a mansion “Wern Fawr” designed by an architect friend  a few years earlier.

In Wales George Davison further developed his zeal for social reform. He used his considerable wealth as a shareholder of Kodak to help fund the Central Labour College in London and also the “White House“ in Ammanford, a study centre for welsh miners. The White House  nurtured many left wing political activists who went on to become both committed first world war pacifists and early members of the emerging labour and communist parties.

Ill health later forced George Davison to move to move to Antibes in Southern France  in 1930 where he died later that year.

George Davison
George Davison

For more information about pinhole photography see the world pinhole photography day website.

The next world pinhole photography day is on 23rd April 2018

Read more about pinhole photography

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Introduction to Drypoint day course photographs

Introduction to Drypoint day course

A successful and really productive day in the studio running our first introduction to Drypoint course.

Each student produced at least four drypoint plates using  a mixture of drypoint plastic and drypoint card. The students executed  initial exploratory mark making on the different materials using a variety of tools. These included carbide and steel tipped stylus’s, roulette wheels, halftone rakes ,sandpaper and wire wool. Learning from these tests the students went one to successfully produce prints using both drypoint plate media. Their resulting designs reflecting their own individual visual style.

The closeness of the basic drypoint technique to drawing together with the variety of additional mark making techniques resulted in a clutch of very strong images. Expectations as to what could be achieved in just 6 hours were exceeded.

Many thanks to our students for making it a great day! To join us on an upcoming course see available dates.