I always strive for outdoors and creative play rather than screen time, in an effort to prevent my kids from becoming screen zombies during the most beautiful weather of the Midwest summer. I don’t know about anyone else’s kids, but mine turn in heaps of sobbing and arguing messes after any amount of screen time. Nature art to the rescue. Specifically sun prints, also known as cyanotypes. What I love about these prints is that they are process-oriented. All of my favorite creative activity for kids are process-oriented, meaning the process is truly more important than the outcome. There is no copying of a subject (for example, we aren’t all trying to create a print of a smiley face).
We started by gathering some materials. Look for items that have differing edges, negative space, translucent, and mostly flat. Buy your own Sun Print paper or create your own. You can see some historical examples and learn about the history of the cyanotype from the Getty.
The directions are simple to follow and on the back of the package. My kid appreciated the visuals in these directions.
We used newspaper sections, but cardboard works too. Working in the shade, place the sheet of cyanotype paper on the newspaper, blue side up. Arrange your items quickly. Place the piece of plexiglass (blue and provided in this kit) on top. Place in the sun for 4-5 minutes. Watch the print to see when it turns white. I used a small section of the edge of the paper to ensure I did not over expose the paper.
When it is ready, quickly take items off and slide the cyanotype paper into a tray of water.
I flipped it upside down and into the water for 1 minute. These will make great cards, artworks on their own, backgrounds for paintings or collages, or even decoupaged into a shadow box. Allow them to dry flat. If they are wrinkly, set a stack of books on top of them once they are dry.
Our next step is to try this with fabric!