Silver had been the basis for most photography since its inception. However early on there were experiments done with other materials and the 1970s and 80s saw a renewal of interest in these obsolete and alternative processes. My friend and colleague, Patricia Lenz, and I taught several workshops featuring Photos on Fabrics using a number of different materials and techniques.
Cyanotyping was the basis for the old blueprint process and uses iron salts as the light sensitive emulsion for contact printing. Cyanotypes have a lovely blue color and I have done most of my cyanotypes on fabric including some large quilted pieces.
The Van Dyke process, named for Anthony van Dyke, is another contact printing process that results in a brown print. It is not strictly non-silver since the emulsion uses both iron salts and silver salts.
Printing from found images, collaged and used as negatives, I did a series that were commentaries on expectations regarding women’s physical appearance. The “negatives” were printed on a variety of papers using different processes including Cyanotype, Van Dyke, Gum Bichromate, and Kwik Print (a commercial proofing process).
While teaching classes on alternative photography, my students and I sponsored “Xerox” exhibitions that were open to anyone on campus. In the early years, only black and white copiers were available in the area. On a couple of occasions we made field trips to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) to use the color copiers there. More recently I have done direct copies on my scanners.