Nicole Small | One on One

Toning With Coffee

The first time I experimented toning with Cyanotypes was 3 years ago. I used coffee for toning and thought I would try coffee once again.

I choose this image to start with:


I was in debate whether or not I should bleach the print first but decided not to since with my first trials I did. As with most of my Cyanotype prints I like to over cook them a little so I can get a nice deep blue color, at the same time this leaves room for toning especially if you plan to bleach your prints beforehand.


I first wet the paper in water for about 2 minutes then placed it in a bath of brewed coffee. I used Nescafe Colombian dark roast for this test. I added 6 tablespoons of coffee to 1500ml of water.


I agitated the print for the first 3 minutes and then let it sit in the coffee bath for 2 hours. To my surprise after 2 hours I did not see much of a difference so I then decided to bleach the print. I did not make a strong solution because from a past experience, I almost bleached out an image in less than 10 seconds. For this bleaching bath I used 1/8th teaspoon of washing soda to 1000ml of water and had it soak in it for close to 2 minutes.


I placed the print back into the toning bath for another 2 hours.


*TIP: you can make your own washing soda from baking soda by following these simple steps:

  1. Turn oven on 400 degrees F.
  2. Pour a thick (1/2 inch or so) layer of baking soda on the bottom of a baking dish.
  3. Bake for 1 hour, stirring 1-2 times in the middle, or until it starts to look glossy/shiny.
  4. Let cool and store in air-tight jar.


Result from toning compared to the original:



Here is another print that I toned in coffee:



This print was bleached first for about 30 seconds. This print did start to change quickly  in the bleaching bath because the original was not my usual deep blue so the color started to fade quickly. This was toned for 20 minutes.


More toning coming up.

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