Kyria (my granddaughter) had a school project, it involved showing something that was invented during the industrial revolution. She picked a mouse trap camera conceived in 1834 by Henry Fox Talbot. She told me about what she wanted to do, and together we set out to recreate Talbot’s early photographs. What Talbot was especially known for was creating a negative paper plate, which he could then make multiple prints from, unlike his contemporary Louis Daguerre, who was making one off images on silver, called daguerreotypes.

We created a mouse trap camera and did put our treated paper inside of it to make a print in a similar fashion. Unfortunately, nothing printed onto the paper. We are not sure why this did not work, except that conditions (cloudy) might have made a difference, and/or our lenses were not penetrable enough to let the light in.

We decided that along with the camera experiment we would make sun prints, which were used by Talbot with his negatives. According to our research, Talbot waxed his negative paper prints to create a positive image, again, on paper.

negative image of “speak-easy” peep hole

Kyria and I ordered a Van Dyck printing kit. Neither of us had ever done sun printing before. We turned my laundry room into a dark room and began to mix all of our chemicals. We let them sit overnight as instructed. Instead of using waxed negatives, we made negatives from original photographs that Kyria shot at my house. One is of my grandmother’s singer sewing machine and the other is of my front door “speak-easy” peep hole. We took the images into photoshop and highly contrasted them and converted them to black and white. Afterwards we printed the negatives onto vellum paper (to simulate the wax effected negatives that Talbot would have made). We then treated a variety of papers with our chemicals and dried them with a blow dryer. We placed the papers onto a cardboard surface, placed the negatives on top and placed a piece of glass over that to prevent them from moving and to make a good seal between the paper and negative. We exposed them for 10 minutes in the sun and brought them in for water bath and fix. These are our results.