Paige Billin-Frye

About the Artist

Exploring 19th century photographic printing processes has brought me to the intersection of photography, digital art, and chemistry. Using either the cyanotype or salted paper printing technique I’ve found that printing a perfect photographic print is less interesting to me than how I can change, enhance and play with the print. Each becomes a one-of-a-kind piece as I tone, bleach and sometimes hand-color the images with watercolor paint or pastels, drawing on painting skills from my experience as an illustrator. I tone the cyanotypes with botanical matter, some harvested from my yard. The tannins in the plant toners react with the iron in the cyanotype emulsion to change the the Prussian blue color of the prints to other colors. Some of the materials I have used are grape leaves, strawberry leaves, and artichoke leaves as well as osage orange wood shavings from a local woodworker and tea and spices from the grocery store. These processes do not need a traditional photography darkroom, but instead I print in a “dim-room,” either in my home in Takoma, DC or as part of the Handmade Photo Group at Photoworks at Glen Echo Park.

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