Brand new for 2020 and a world photographic first, these pre-rolled 35mm film cassettes are loaded with specially coated cyanotype paper, which will allow you to use one of the world’s first photographic techniques in any 35mm film camera ever made. Say hello to “Paper Blues”.
The brainchild of Film Folk’s Aislinn Chuahiock, “Paper Blues” comes in the form of a three-pack of 36-exposure 35mm cassettes with three different film speeds is available for preorder now with expected delivery in July 2020.
In a recent phone call with Aislinn, she told me:
The process is quick and simple, requires no additional chemicals – toxic or otherwise. You can use it in any 35mm film camera ever made.
If you’re not familiar with the cyanotype process by name, there’s no doubt you’ll have come across the signature turquoise results the process creates (see below for samples from EMULSIVE authors over the years). The cyanotype process was discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1842 and was quickly adopted by Anna Atkins, who’s family were 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 scientific illustration.
When I asked about the materials used and specifications of the new 35mm cyanotype paper, Aislinn remained tight-lipped. She would only say that it uses a highly specialised 100% recycled “3-layer” material as the substrate. It’s designed to be soft, strong and very long; and provides convenient perforations at regular intervals, which allows individual frames or collections of frames to be torn off and individually framed.
The paper is coated using a “front-to-back wipe” process, which I understand to be proprietary, although Aislinn and her team hope to be able to offer it under licence to other manufacturers in the future.
We spent a long time perfecting the coating process and instead of using the multi-layered approach required to put done photographic film, we found a front-to-back “wipe” suited our substrate much better.
Cyanotype is a low-resolution process — by modern standards at least — however, the unique multi-layer substrate of “Paper Blues”, combined with the professional glass optics of so many film camera provide surprisingly crisp results. The each bundled 3-pack provides you with three different “film” speeds to experiment with: ISO 1.5, ISO 5 and ISO 12.
At US$35 per pack, Paper Blues is definitely priced as a boutique traditional photography product. Each roll provides 36 exposures and the documentation suggests using at least three frames per sitting (bracketing exposures). The 100% recycled, handmade, artisanal materials used — all carefully hand-selected — really come through when you handle the product. It exudes quality and each roll is lightly scented with a unique hypoallergenic perfume.
“It’s perfect for keeping kids entertained around the house or garden and a really inexpensive and interactive way of getting them into photography,” says Aislinn and I can’t help but agree with her. I was lucky enough to receive a test roll some days ago and spent my time with friends and their kids teaching them how to use a 40-year-old Nikon SLR with the paper. From loading the film to making exposures, “developing” it and framing the results on their parent’s fridge.
I rarely say this when profiling new products here on EMULSIVE but I’ve already put my preorder in and can’t wait to give it another crack at the whip. In the meantime, I’ll be practising at home with more traditionally created cyanotype prints.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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