by Laurel Costa

Friend and volunteer Christine Hoey hosted the first Cyanotype Workshop here at Ilan-Lael Art Center

You might be wondering… What are Cyanotypes?

Cyanotype print made with native flowers. PHOTO: Angie Striepling

Generally referred to as a contact print photogram, cyanotypes are photographic printing process where treated paper is exposed to ultraviolet light and develops into a beautiful print in shades of cyan blue, resulting in a one-of-a-kind photo image. Christine’s workshop offers an introduction to the process along with our local native plant ecology. Attendees are encouraged to use the surrounding plants and leaves in their Cyanotypes as well as other unique items to make beautiful nature inspired prints.

Scrambling to close car windows and take art indoors out of the rain. PHOTO: Louise Russell

Our group of artists were in the process of exposing their cyanotypes to the sun when a sudden downpour from a fast moving storm soaked the whole class (and their prints). Serendipitously—or by cosmic Hubbell intervention—the rain drops had a fortuitous and beautiful effect on our cyanotypes.

Have a look at what we made and hear what attendees had to say about their experience!

Workshop artists showing their work after being drenched by a passing storm. PHOTO: Christine Hoey


“It was such a special and memorable moment that we had a rainstorm during the class! I loved how the tour of property and history was also our opportunity to gather plant/flower clippings for our art. What an amazing day full of creativity and fun!” — Angie Striepling


A beautiful cyanotype with patterns made by rain drops by Susie Pernia


“I liked the freedom to create my own designs on paper and fabric using native plants and other natural resources and it was such a unique crafting experience – I can’t wait to create more and enhance my technique!” —Violette Oldenkamp


Artists assembling native plant material on light sensitive paper. PHOTO: Richard Miller

A native Matilija poppy being used for a Cyanotype creation. PHOTO: Louise Russell

California Poppy being used for a Cyanotype Creation. PHOTO: Christine Hoey

Completed Cyanotype PHOTO: Christine Hoey

Class displaying their work of the day. PHOTO: Christine Hoey


About the Artist:

Christine Hoey is a lifelong artist and photographer who has always been intrigued with texture, shapes, and colors in the natural world. She began exploring Cyanotype photography using native plants to highlight the plight of our disappearing habitats. Christine has worked as a nurse practitioner, and she is currently a board member/garden committee chair of the California Native Plant Society in San Diego. She is also passionate about mosaics and trained with Luciana Notturni in Ravenna, Italy using traditional Roman mosaic technique. More recently, Christine apprenticed with mosaic artist Emile Ledieu at Ilan Lael last year on the new ADA bathroom. We are so thrilled to welcome Christine as a teacher and friend into our Ilan-Lael community.

Are you interested is a unique workshop experience at Ilan-Lael? Check out current workshops 


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Top photo: Storm over Ilan-Lael Foundation by Richard Miller
About the Author

Laurel began working at Ilan-Lael as a mosaic tile artist for Hubbell Studios. But it wasn’t long before her many other talents were put to work by James. You might see Laurel repairing the roof of a building, or waist-high in a hole shoveling dirt, or photographing the art and nature on the property, or helping out in the studio forge or stained glass studio. Her skills are multi-dimensional. But her favorite place is in the art archive where she’s served as the Ilan-Lael Foundation Archivist since 2018. She’s been tasked with organizing, cataloguing, and preserving the vast body of James’ work.  In 2022 Laurel became the Ilan-Lael Operations Manager, helping to run programs and working with the Ilan-Lael team to serve the mission of the foundation. 


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