The AjA Project: Photography Programs for San Diego Youth

How To Do a Cyanotype Pop Up AjA Style in 7 Steps


On April 23rd 2016, The AjA Project ,working in partnership with Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI), set up a Cyanotype “Pop-Up” at Galeria 1881 in celebration of the 46th Annual Chicano Park Day. The Cyanotype Pop-Up was conceptualized as an event to both celebrate four years of STEAM programming partnership of The AjA Project with BLCI students and to commemorate Barrio Logan and Chicano Community Leaders. For the Cyanotype Pop-Up, STEAM Participants, supported by AjA volunteers and staff, lead Chicano Park Day visitors through short hands-on workshop where they created beautiful Cyanotypes of local and historical Chicano leaders. If you’d like to re-create this Cyanotype pop-up in your community just follow the steps bellow! Enjoy!

1. Find an Event!

Chicano Park Day is a 46 year old tradition that takes place annually in the San Diego community of Barrio Logan. It is a family friendly festival that brings thousands of people together from across the U.S. and around the world to celebrate Chicano culture, art, history, and heritage. The 46th Annual Chicano Park Day was the perfect space for the Cyanotype Pop-Up because of the community oriented nature of this project. Also being a part of Chicano Park Day informed the themes for our Cyanotype transparencies!

2. Find a Location!

Chicano Park Day primarily takes place in Chicano Park, a community space decorated with vivid murals directly below San Diego’s Coronado Bridge on Logan Avenue. Galeria 1881 is centrally located on Logan Avenue a few blocks from the heart of the festivities. The AjA Project was able to set up our pop-up next door to Galeria 1881 thanks to Alan Cassell. Our pop-up tent was set up early in order to ensure the best access to direct sunlight, because light is critical to the development of a Cyanotype. Galeria 1881 allowed us to use a dark space free of UV light to construct our pop-up dark room, this is where the paper coated in photosensitive chemistry will be left to dry. Galeria 1881 also provided us with access to water, another important step in the Cyanotype development process is access to clean water and also access to a drain in which to later discard the “dirty” water.

3. Find your Team!

The AjA Project has worked in partnership with Barrio Logan College institute for the past 4 years. Through this collaboration, AjA brings innovative, arts programs to students at BLCI, all Latino and first-in-family to attend college! This partnership leverages the strengths of both organizations, including AjA’s assets-based approach and BLCI’s deep engagement in the community of Barrio Logan to offer students a unique STEAM experience. The Pop-Up serves as yet another example of the great partnership between BLCI + AjA. Staff from both organizations helped coordinate the event, while AjA Volunteers and AjA Staff joined participants on April 23rd for the Pop- Up event. For a public facing event it’s always important to have energetic and creative people who can talk to people easily! This step may seem simple, but it is key to have smiling faces filling your Pop-Up tent!


4. What you’ll need!

This is what you’ll need to create your own Cyanotype:

Formulary Liquid Cyanotype Kit
Foam Brushes
Latex Gloves in Sizes for Kids & Adults
Canson Uncoated Paper
Transparency Paper or OHP for Enlarged Negatives
Paper Towels
Black Trash Bags
String + Clothing Pins
Painters Tape
Plexi Glass (for contact printing)
Puppy Pads (for tables to soak up any spills)
Trays / Tongs
Portable Trash Can
Portable Dark Room (see directions below)

5. A Pop-Up Dark Room!
To create a Portable Dark Room you will need:

A large cardboard box
Black trash bags

Use the tape to close the top of the box.
Tape and/or drape the black trash bags over the box.
It is important to make sure no light enters the box through any part of the box.
Leave the bottom of the box open so that participants can reach into the box.
Drape a trash bag over the bottom of the box that is open in order to ensure no light enters.You can move the trash bag aside every time you reach into the box.

6. How to create a Cyanotype
The Cyanotype is perhaps the safest photo printing method. Still, basic safety measures should be observed:
Cover your work surface.
Don’t use any utensils that will be used for food.
Wear safety gear: goggles, gloves,etc.

Cyanotype Process:
Mix two chemicals to create photosensitive solution of ‘sensitizer’.
Brush, smear, or soak the sensitizer into cotton-based watercolor paper.
Create a negative image on a transparency with a laser/inkjet printer or copy machine.
Place the negative over the dried, sensitized paper.
Expose to UV light.
Wash the image in water to develop.
Hang to dry!


7. Get started!
Follow these steps and you’re on your way!

7 (1 of 1)

Special Thanks!




Steam Participants





Carmen @ Galeria 1881

Alan Cassell