Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print. Engineers used the process well into the 20th century as a simple and low-cost process to produce copies of drawings, blueprints.

The process uses two chemicals, mixes in equal parts: ammonium iron(III) citrate [20% solution] and potassium ferricyanide [8.1% (w/v) solution]. These are available at art supply stores, photography stores and, of course, online. Only mix enough to use during a single session, as it only keeps for about 3-4 hours. Apply to a surface with a brush. I used a foam brush.


The solution can be applied to any porous surface, including paper (especially watercolor paper), cloth, canvas and even drywall. Allow to dry completely before applying second or third coats. I found that one is probably enough. Once the paper is dry, keep it in a dark place, such as a black plastic contractor bag.

I printed some digital negatives of two Delft China patterns and one of my dioramas onto a piece of 8×11 transparency film. I also copied a postcard about a shoe art exhibit onto a transparent sheet in a photo copier.


I put the transparent negatives, along with a feather, in a window box and placed it in the sun for about 9 minutes.



It was a very bright day. The paper gradually changed colors, turning a silvery brown.

I also tried this with my hand, as objects can be laid on the paper, too.



I rinsed the paper in warm water for about 7 minutes or so – just long enough to see the white highlights show through the blue. The process stops as soon as the paper is submerged. If the paper seems yellow after drying, it can be rinsed again. I started in the big blue baby pool to get most of the solution off, then used the other two boxes.



The photo above shows four of my attempts at this process – the feather image has one coat of the solution, the hand and shoes have two coats, and the big piece has three coats.


It was really simple – I plan to do more of these.

If YOU are interested, you should check out Gray Lyons beautiful work. She showed me how to do this, and she was as kind as she is talented.

The Madness of March: Spring Fever

Here’s a closer look at the Dioramas I took to Diorama-rama II.

To address the theme of “March Madness,” I thought I’d ignore the sportsball and explore the strange, strange energy that Springtime brings:

  1. How weird I think Easter is as a “holiday,” which combines egg laying bunnies and people rising from the dead (z o m b i e s), and
  2. Spring Fever!

I started with Spring Fever, as it was low hanging melons, er, fruit. I have a couple of “cute” tins that I’ve never been sure how to use, so I added bunny tails and a blue eyed blonde.




Next, I wanted to use another odd box that’s been on my shelf for a while, which bears the inscription  Recuerdo de Esquipulas (I remember Esquipulas)


Esquipulas is a municipality in eastern eastern Guatemala.  This city is known as the main point of Central Catholic pilgrimage, as it is the place where they worship the Black Christ of Esquipulas. It is also sometimes an alternate Universe.


I was able to add some of my action figures (cactus head and surrender cowboy), as well as Ms. April from the 1970’s. It looks fabulous in a dark room when the interior diorama light is on.

glory \Ms.April

In my mind, these two pieces actually work together. Neither of them rely heavily on paper cut drawings, which is something I’ve tried only once before.

Diorama-rama Deux


And I quote: “Wonder Commons presents Diorama-Rama Deux, a celebration of creative storytelling inside the box. Join us in our second year as we compete for awards and celebrate what can be seen through the miniature. Introductory Diorama demonstration by artist Jim Doran.”


So, I set some of my work out and talked with folks about Diorama-ing.


I quickly put together a zine about some of my work.


This event is put on by Wonder Commons – Robert Marbury and his wife Alix Fenhagen.


The theme was “March Madness,” which has something to do with baseball or something. I made two dioramas that are NOT paper cut-outs.

I get a mild form of madness called SPRING FEVER. Perhaps you’ve heard of it – it doesn’t help that, after days of glorious weather, it snowed yesterday.



And here’s part two, which has EVERYTHING to do with baseball:


(More on both of these dioramas can be read in their own post).

I won “Best in Show!”


Please notice that the trophy has two baseball bats AND two cups on top.


This is a smart, fun (and amusing) event. I saw a lot of the same faces from last year’s event, and a few new ones. NEXT YEAR, we are going to have a “make your own diorama session” before the judging kicks off, and I have offered to help people realize their own diorama-rama-ness.

All of the entries were great – here are a few more:








Keep an eye out for next year’s Diorama-rama, and come!

Alchemical Vessels

Art heals.

I have watched Art transform people when I worked as an expressive therapist. I know it from my own life, too.


I’m in an exhibition at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts that opened last night. Here’s the introductory blurb for this exhibit:

“The definition of alchemy is to transform something toxic into an illuminated substance, which why we ask each artist to transform a cigar box by means of his or her own personal aesthetic and medium—taking a box that would be normally filled with a polarizing object as a cigar and creating an alchemical vessel, an original piece of artwork in order to benefit the Smith Center’s cancer support programs. We hope you will join our efforts in realizing this community-building art exhibition and benefit to support our important work with cancer patients, their caregivers, and veterans.”

As a prompt, artists were encouraged to answer the following 3 questions (either with a partner, or alone). Here they are, if you’d like to follow along at home:

  1. What is one of the most difficult things you have ever had to go through (Feel free to tell as much or as little of details as you want. But reflect on what was challenging about the situation.)
  2. What helped you get through that? What did you draw on (friends, family, spiritual practices, God, nutrition, silence, intuition, ……etc)?
  3. How does getting through that inform or affect the way you live your life now?



The ladder is made from a coffee stirrer.

I spent a couple of days answering these questions and came up with “Out of the Woods,” a diorama containing several of my own alchemic symbols relating to the healing power of making art. And this is the first time I’ve made a diorama in a cigar box.



March 18 – May 6, 2016
Opening Reception: Friday, March 18, 7–9pm
Artists’ Closing Reception: Friday, May 6, 7–9pm

More information is on their Website.

Raccoon Skeletons


For years, I’ve been bringing dead raccoons home to bury them in a makeshift pet cemetery. It is a nice thing to do for them, and it provides a safe way for me to interact with them.




I recently started a new taxidermy experiment. I’m not so interested in stuffing them at this point (although I would love to own some stuff raccoons), but I AM interested in their bones.


Instead of burying them and reclaiming the bones later, I am trying a new approach, which is to keep them in a cage above ground until they fully decompose.



The photo below is from a few weeks ago. Living in such a rural place has been a big advantage. There is a sad abundance of dead raccoons, and the nearest neighbors are far enough away that smell hasn’t been an issue.


I introduced meal worms to the bodies shown above. Once the bones are exposed, I’ll put them in a box with more meal worms, as they are supposed to rapidly clean the bones. My cage has successfully frustrated visiting vultures and other critters.


I will make 3D scans of my clean bones. I’ll process those scans into .stl files, which I can then print using a MakerBot or similar (as I do with action figures).


I’ll have new, plastic skeletons to use in my work. They can be armatures, charters or sculptures.



Inside the Egg (prototype)

To explore more delicate containers for my dioramas, I decided to try egg shells. I used a pin to poke holes in the top and bottom of an egg, and then used a screwdriver to make a larger hole at the bottom. I used the bulb of a turkey baster to push the contents of the egg out through the larger hole in the bottom.

I then bleached the inside of the egg and rinsed it with soap and water.



I used a dremel/engraving tool to make the hole(s), and then added the scene. I can light the egg from the hole at the bottom, too.






Here’s a cool thing – I got to use a laser cutter last night. I want to put the Yellow Cowboy in his own box, and I like the idea of him standing among a bunch of flowers. I do not feel compelled to hand cut those flowers out (I did the ones he’s holding).


I drew some flowers in Illustrator.


The focus was off on the first pass, so we did it again.

I had connected the flowers to each other in chains because the machine has a vacuum for pulling the small bits away, and I thought they small ones might get lost. But there’s also an etching plate, shown below:


Here’s a short clip of the machine working: