Dusty True Blue is a project created by Jess Jones, Virginia (USA) based artist/photographer, where she is currently making beautiful cyanotype printed bags, shoes, and jeans. While film stock prices continue to rise, Jess tells me that the cyanotypes are going strong and allows her to get experimental again. She is sharing her work on a new Instagram account called @dustytrueblue, which is also the place you can message her to purchase her wonderful creations!
Jess describes her favorite thing about working with cyanotypes, ‘Just like in my film photography, it brings me outdoors and into nature. It’s where I feel my best. It is also another form of “instant photography” that I have fallen in love with. While other film stocks have become out of reach, the cyanotype method is alive and well and allows me to experiment again. It’s very freeing!’
When I initially spotted Jess’s project on her main Instagram account @yessyones, she mentioned potentially not doing it for very long so I asked her about any future plans after seeing the success of her initial items, which included beautiful bags that sold out.
‘Since mailing out those bags, I have made a separate Instagram account to share my work – successes and failures and everything in between. I think I might keep this going until my ADD pulls me towards the next new adventure. I have really become obsessed. I still have to get into all of the different toning methods… like bleach! Bleach has always had a hold on me when it comes to my clothes, but it tones Cyano to yellow which is fascinating. I love it.’
The enthusiasm in her answers is infectious and I’ll be surprised if I haven’t bought a cyanotype kit by the time I finish writing this article. Or if you haven’t either…
She also mentions about the art form, ‘Cyanotypes have been around for a very long time, and I am no pioneer. I began my blue journey with the simple Jacquard mix kit, which surprisingly goes a long way. I recommend anyone interested in trying it, to grab a kit (inexpensive and easily attainable even at Amazon), grab some watercolor paper and go to town. From there the possibilities will start flying through your brain faster than you can grab’em. Nobody is going to make the same cyanotype, so you may as well get experimenting! I want to bring my love for instant photography and cyanoprinting together, I just haven’t harnessed it yet.’
For making cyanotypes on fabric, you might wonder like me about how it holds up in the wash. Jess says the fabric holds up well if you are mindful not to wash it with any detergents that contain phosphates or solium.
‘I have faded a couple items so far but they were also lessons learned. When it comes to fabric, you can’t wash it with any detergents that contain phosphates or sodium, but I was able to find a detergent (carried by a big retailer) that *allegedly* has neither. My most-worn denim pieces have been gently cold-water hand-washed (or if you’re impatient like me sometimes, gentle machine-wash mode) in this detergent multiple times and look great. If you have even a tiny bit of regular day-to-day detergent stuck to the inside of your washing machine you will know afterwards! Some other folks recommend only hand-washing (tub style) in cold water, which I have done as well and it seems to do the job.’
To check out Jess’s work, head on over to her Dusty True Blue Instagram here!
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