New “Paper Blues”: Pre-rolled cyanotype paper for your 35mm film camera

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All new for 2020 and a world first in photography, these pre-rolled 35mm film cassettes are loaded with specially coated cyanotype paper, allowing you to use one of the world’s first photographic techniques in any camera 35mm never made. Say hello to “Paper Blues”.

The brainchild of Film Folk’s Aislinn Chuahiock, “Paper Blues” comes as a three-pack of 36mm 36 exposure cassettes with three different film speeds is available for pre-order now delivery scheduled for July 2020.

In a recent phone call with Aislinn, she told me:

The process is quick and simple, requiring no additional chemicals – toxic or otherwise. You can use it in any 35mm camera ever made.

If you are unfamiliar with the cyanotype process by name, there is no doubt that you will have encountered the signature turquoise results that the process creates (see below for examples of EMULSIVE authors over the years ). The cyanotype process was discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1842 and was quickly adopted by Anna Atkins, whose family was neighbors and friends of Herschel. Over a period of years, Atkins used the cyanotype process to create three volumes of hundreds of images called “British Algae, Cyanotype Impressions”. They are considered the first published work to use a photographic process for the purpose of scientific illustration.

When I asked about the materials used and the specifications of the new 35mm cyanotype paper, Aislinn remained tight-lipped. She would only say that it uses a highly specialized 100% recycled “3-ply” material as a substrate. It is designed to be soft, strong and extra long; and provides convenient perforations at regular intervals, making it possible to tear out individual frames or collections of frames and frame them individually.

The paper is coated using a ‘double-sided cleaning’ process, which I understand to be proprietary, although Aislinn and his team hope to be able to license it to other manufacturers in the future.

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We spent a lot of time perfecting the coating process and instead of using the multi-layered approach required to put on finished photographic film, we found that a front-to-back “cleanup” suited our substrate much better.

Cyanotype is a low resolution process – at least by modern standards – however the unique multi-coated substrate of “Paper Blues”, combined with the professional glass optics of so many film cameras, provides amazingly sharp results. Each 3-pack gives you three different “movie” speeds to experiment with: ISO 1.5, ISO 5, and ISO 12.

At US$35 per pack, Paper Blues is definitely sold as a traditional boutique photography product. Each roll provides 36 exposures, and the literature suggests using at least three images per session (exposures in parentheses). The 100% recycled, handmade and artisanal materials used – all carefully selected by hand – really stand out when you handle the product. It exudes quality and each roll is lightly scented with a unique hypoallergenic fragrance.

“It’s perfect for entertaining children around the house or garden and a really inexpensive and interactive way to introduce them to photography.” Aislinn says and I can’t help but agree with her. I was lucky enough to receive a test roll a few days ago and spent my time with friends and their children teaching them how to use a 40 year old Nikon SLR with the paper. From the loading of the film to the production of the exhibitions, passing through the “development” and the framing of the results on the fridge of their parents.

I rarely say this when I showcase new products here on EMULSIVE, but I’ve already placed my pre-order and can’t wait to give it another shot. In the meantime, I will practice at home with more traditional cyanotype prints.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

~EM

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I am EM, founder, overlord and editor of EMULSIVE.org. I may be a benevolent gestalt entity but contrary to increasingly popular belief, I am not an AI. View EM’s full profile and links

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