You don’t need a camera to make pictures this summer. Head outside, harness the power of nature and highlight objects found in the yard with some artistic sun prints.
These papers are coated in a special film that reacts to UV light, according to UC Berkeley. Because there are no chemicals or expensive photography gear involved, the kids can help, too. Let’s get crafty.
1. Collect Nature Objects
Look for leaves, blooms, grasses and other items that have an intriguing shape. The best choices lie flat and have a lot of detail. For example, try holly leaves with rough edges or a flower blossom complete with petals, stamen, pistil and stalk.
2. Prepare a Rinse
Fill a shallow baking pan with cool water and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. You will dip each print in this solution to set the images, similar to the method for developing photographic prints in a darkroom.
3. Set Up a Work Station
Lay a flat piece of sturdy cardboard on an even surface outside in direct sunlight. Use a few rocks to secure the corners if there’s a breeze. This will be where you create the prints.
4. Prepare the Paper
Use light sensitive sun print paper from a craft or hobby shop. This is different from darkroom printing paper for photos. Open the outer package, then open the inner resealable plastic bag containing the paper. Don’t let the paper get exposed to direct sunlight until you’re ready to make your first print.
5. Make a Picture
Remove one sheet of the light sensitive paper from the pouch. Reseal the package. Place the paper with the blue side facing up on the cardboard. Quickly — in just a few seconds — lay the nature objects onto the paper. Cover the items with a piece of clear plastic or glass. Most packages of sun print paper include a piece of heavy, clean plastic to use for this purpose.
6. Expose the Sun Print
The sun creates the image in a minute or two. To your kids, it looks like magic. When the paper turns very light blue, almost white, the print is ready to move. Remove the plastic and nature objects, and quickly submerge the paper in the rinse. Let the print sit for one minute, then remove the paper and place it on a towel to air dry.
7. Flatten the Artwork
After the print is dry, remove the wrinkles by placing it in a protective clear sleeve and flattening it beneath a heavy book for a few hours. Then, let your creativity go wild. You can work with the image much like a photograph.
Have you ever made sun prints? What objects did you expose? Tell us about them in the comments below.
Photo Source: Angela Tague