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How to Make Sun Prints

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Learn how to make sun prints with this easy tutorial. It only takes a short time and the results are stunning.

vintage industrial cabinet and sun print art

How to Make Sun Prints

Today I’m going to show you how to make some gorgeous sun prints using items from nature and the power of the sun! It’s all part of this month’s Thrifty Style Team challenge, hosted by my friend Julie at Redhead Can Decorate, and you can see all of this month’s creative projects at the bottom of this post.

Each month we share ideas for using thrifted, gifted, free, or budget-friendly items to decorate your home with. The creativity of this group always blows me away!

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How to Make Sun Prints

diy sun print hanging on wall hooks

I enjoy creating art for my home, especially if it’s budget-friendly and looks like it’s from a designer shop. I’ve been seriously crushing on blue and white recently (see my recently updated living room here → New Blue and White Living Room) and love the way these incorporate those colors into my decor. Plus I adore the organic look of them.    

blue and white fern sun print

This is a really simple project and is something you could easily do with your kids or grandchildren. Simple art is the best kind for me, lol. You can see some of my past simple DIY art creations here → 13 Thrifty DIY Art & Decor Ideas

diy fern sun print and vintage hobart cabinet

Here are the main things to know about this little project: 

  • A special cyanotype paper is required.
  • It changes color when exposed to the sunlight. Hence the name “sun prints”.
  • The shapes are created by blocking the sun on the areas covered. 
  • The covered areas remain white and the areas exposed to the sun will turn blue after rinsing the paper with water. Pretty cool, huh? 
  • Flat items like leaves give sharper edges, while items that are more dimensional have a softer abstract look when used on the paper.
  • And the best part? It’s only $1.53 per sheet!! I used this kit with the necessary sheet of glass included → sun print paper kit
vintage bottle diy sun print process

I played around with several different items including a vintage bottle. Here are a few items that would make interesting art with this sun print paper

  • Bottles
  • Leaves
  • Butterflies and insects
  • Seashells
  • Lace
  • Stencils
  • Scissors and other tools
  • Kitchen gadgets

I can’t wait to try some of these other items in the near future.

sun print made with vintage glass bottle

Here’s the full printable tutorial for this fun sun print project.

How to Make Sun Prints

How to Make Sun Prints

Yield: 15
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Difficulty: easy

Create stylish and affordable art in minutes with just a few supplies.

Materials

  • Sun Print Kit
  • Leaves, flowers, or other object to create reverse shadows
  • Water
  • Picture Frame

Tools

  • No tools needed!

Instructions

    1. Select the items with interesting shapes to create your art. It can be leaves, flowers, or anything you like. Decide how you want to lay it out on the paper. (here are some ideas) 

    2. In a room with the very low lighting, gently remove one sheet of the sunprint paper from the package, being careful not to expose any of the other sheets. If the paper is exposed the project won’t work.

    3. Place the paper on a flat tray or piece of cardboard and then lay your selected object on top of it, following the manufacturers instructions for which side to face upwards. 

    4. Place the piece of glass over both of them, and then cover all of it with another piece of regular paper or poster board to minimize exposure until you’re ready to expose it to full sun.

    5. Carry the items outside into full sunlight and remove the top sheet of paper covering the glass, exposing the sunprint paper and your objects to the sunlight. Leave the glass in place as it will hold everything still while the sun does its magic.

    6. Leave in the direct sunlight for 2 – 5 minutes. The paper that is exposed to the sun will turn white. Do not overexpose. 

    7. Re-cover the paper and bring it inside. Remove your objects. (leaves in this case) The paper will be light blue where your object was blocking the sun from the paper, like the photo below.

    8. Remove the paper from your tray and rinse in water for a couple of minutes.

    9. Lay flat to dry. It will darken as it dries.

    10. Hang in a frame or with a hanging magnetic poster frame.

Notes

    • Items that lay flat produce the sharpest prints. 
    • Items that are more dimensional will produce prints that are softer and a bit more abstract.
    • This process works best on bright, sunny days with no clouds. 

 Here are all of this month’s projects for the Thrifty Style Team!

thrifty home decor and accessory projects

Click the links below to read about each idea:

 

Redhead Can Decorate – How to Create & Style a Sexy Rustic Suede Bracelet

The Painted Hinge – How to Use Real Flowers in Hanging Baskets

DIY Beautify – How to Get That Restoration Hardware Finish with Paint

2 Bees In A Pod – Vacation Memory Map Wreath

The How To Home – Easy and Quick Upcycled Garden Planters to Make in Minutes

Vinyet Etc. – DIY – Wooden Pendant From Thrifted Tennis Racket

Sweet Pea – Antique Mirror Makeover

What Meegan Makes – How To Make a Flower Basket from a Spice Rack

Cottage At The Crossroads – No Sew Ruffled Tea Towel

Postcards From The Ridge – Designer DIY Wall Art with Sunprints

Lora B. Create & Ponder – Repurposed Old Wood Create Tote Caddy DIY

Our Crafty Mom – Cottage Core Old Window Wall Decor

Chas’ Crazy Creations – Easy DIY Chalkboard TV Tray

Cottage On Bunker Hill – DIY Mini Flower Pot Wreath

You can see all of my past Thrifty Style Team projects here:

 

See even more ideas for budget-friendly wall art here:

13 Ideas for thrifty wall art and decor 

blue and white wall art and vintage botanical wall art

diy sun prints made with fern leaves

19 Comments

    1. Thanks, Cindy! It's a great way to make some unique and inexpensive art!

  1. I've seen this but never had any idea how to do it! Thank you for the wonderful tutorial and beautiful inspiration!

  2. Angie – you have blown our minds! We had no idea how to do this project. Your sun prints are beautiful.Thanks for sharing how to create them.

  3. Well this is just darling!!!! I love the botanical, but you know the vintage bottle print has stolen my heart! What a wonderful project, I'll have to hunt for some of that magical paper locally!

  4. Oh my gosh what a great idea, and I love how it turned out. Thank you so much for sharing and wonderful hopping with you!

  5. I LOVE botanical prints. These are just what I need for my guest bathroom. So pretty, Angie!

  6. hi, I tried this for a senior center project, but parts of the paper turned purple. do you know what would cause this?

    1. Maybe some parts were exposed to the sun at different amounts? I’m not completely sure as I haven’t experienced this. I’m so sorry! You might check with the manufacturer and see if they have any tips.

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