Anthotype

Anthotyping, also known as nature printing, is a historical photographic process that uses plant pigments and sunlight to create an image as ephemeral as it is beautiful. The word anthotype comes from the Ancient Greek words anthos, for flower, and typos, for imprint. Though the photosensitive properties of natural pigments have been known for centuries, the modern process of anthotyping only dates to John Herschel’s experimental photography in the mid-19th century. The process remains largely unchanged to this day.

 

To create an anthotype, an emulsion of plant pigments is painted onto a surface, after which the materials which create the final image are arranged on top. Finally, the tableau is exposed to the sun until the uncovered pigment bleaches away, leaving a delicate image in the original color. The effect is soft and ethereal, in some ways reminiscent of a watercolor painting. The original image cannot be fixed; given enough subsequent exposure to the sun, it will fade permanently.

 

I first became interested in anthotypes as part of my work with historical photographic methods, and that interest only grew when I realized that anthotyping integrates two of my other passions, paper arts and gardening. In the creation of my anthotypes, I use plants and flowers grown in my own garden whenever possible.

 

Each anthotype in this series is released as a limited edition of three digital prints, laid without retouching on natural fine art matte paper. The original anthotype will not be sold as it will eventually fade away. The three prints will be sold as limited editions. The choice of only three prints symbolizes the three personal passions I combine in my anthotypes: photography, paper arts, and gardening.

limited edition of three digital prints

Printed on 11x14 Fine Art Matte Natural Paper. Image is approximately 10x6 to allow a white border. Packaged with foam board in Krystal Seal Art Bag. $50 each. Purchase in person at an upcoming art show or contact me directly at alightheistart@gmail.com

Cedar on Spinach

  • Organic spinach leaves & alcohol 
  • Three coats on watercolor paper
  • Exposed in sunlight for one day in Pasco, WA
  • May 2024

Amaranth on Butterfly Pea Flower with wash

  • Butterfly Pea Flower Tea & alcohol 
  • Three coats on watercolor paper. Then washed off & re-exposed
  • Exposed in sunlight for one day in Pasco, WA
  • May 2024

Japanese Maple on Spinach

  • Organic spinach leaves & alcohol 
  • Three coats on watercolor paper
  • Exposed in sunlight for one day in Pasco, WA
  • May 2024

Swiss cheese on Spinach

  • Organic spinach leaves & alcohol 
  • Three coats on watercolor paper
  • Exposed in sunlight for one day in Pasco, WA
  • May 2024

Cedar on Butterfly Pea Flower with Borax

  • Butterfly Pea Flower & alcohol 
  • Three coats on watercolor paper. Borax Wash then re-exposed
  • Exposed in sunlight for one day in Pasco, WA
  • May 2024

Two Cedar on Spinach

  • Organic spinach leaves & alcohol 
  • Three coats on watercolor paper
  • Exposed in sunlight for one day in Pasco, WA
  • May 2024

Fern on Butterfly Pea Flower

  • Butterfly Pea Flower & alcohol 
  • One coat on watercolor paper
  • Exposed in sunlight for one day in Pasco, WA
  • May 2024

Pineapple & Cedar on Spinach

  • Organic spinach leaves & alcohol 
  • Three coats on watercolor paper
  • Exposed in sunlight for one day in Pasco, WA
  • May 2024

Cedar Crow on Spinach

  • Organic spinach leaves & alcohol 
  • Three coats on watercolor paper
  • Exposed in sunlight for one day in Pasco, WA
  • May 2024

Crow on Butterfly Pea Flower with Borax 

  • Butterfly Pea Flower & alcohol 
  • Three coats on watercolor paper. Borax Wash then re-exposed
  • Exposed in sunlight for one day in Pasco, WA
  • May 2024

How to Create an Anthotype

In the creation of my anthotypes, I use plants and flowers grown in my own garden whenever possible.


The first step is to create an emulsion

Mix with a little alcohol & strain

Coat watercolor paper. Depending on the organic material, it could be 1-3 coats. 

Expose to sunlight. Exposure could take a few hours to a few weeks.