Meet The Maker: Sarah Bourne Rafferty of Atwater Designs

I’m a photographer and printmaker who loves combining her passion for the natural world with historic photographic processes. Atwater Designs is named for my mom’s side of the family. I also grew up surrounded by water on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and find as an adult that I need to be near water to feel alive and grounded. The name is both my identity and my yearning.

As a child, I loved exploring the outdoors mostly because it was the way my father and I got to spend time together. He taught me about the names of plants and trees. Together, we got our hands dirty in flower and vegetable gardens. These are some of my fondest memories. Those moments instilled in me a desire to be outside as often as possible. My creative process begins with walking the natural world around me and gathering specimens from which to create my prints. My hope is that in the creation and encasing of them into small frames and boxes, I am enabling others to invite a little specimen of the natural world into their homes.

My original blue botanical prints are called cyanotypes since they are made with a photosensitive chemical that turns blue, or cyan, upon development. As I walk wooded trails near my home with my dog, Tallie, I am amazed at the variety of plants that would be ideal for the creation of future cyanotypes. I love letting my thoughts wander as I walk.

Creating the prints is my favorite part. I often mix the chemicals and brush them onto paper a day or more before making the prints. I have better luck with more thoroughly dried chemistry. Then I get to select natural items I found while walking some of my favorite trails. On a sunny day, I’ll arrange the plants on the coated paper, with an eye towards composition and considering how each plant will render once and then expose the print to the sun. Experimenting with exposure times and spraying my subjects with water has been really fun lately.

You’ll find me at the Art Star Craft Bazaar on Mother’s Day weekend – May 12 and 13 – for my first Craft Bazaar! I’m delighted to be included in this year’s line-up. Stop by and say hello – you can’t miss me, everything is blue! You can also find me at various markets this Spring season, online at, on Instagram (I love Instagram!) @atwaterdesigns and on Facebook.

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