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How to Make Sun Prints

Learn how to make beautiful prints using the sun
vintage industrial cabinet and sun print art

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!


This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. For full disclosure go here.



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.


Yield: 15 prints
Author: Angie @ Postcards from the Ridge
Estimated cost: $23

How to Make Sun Prints

Create stylish and affordable art in minutes with just a few supplies.
prep time: 5 hourperform time: 30 hourtotal time: 35 H

materials:

  • Sunprint Kit
  • Leaves, flowers, or other object to create the design with
  • Water 
  • Picture Frame

tools:

  • No tools necessary for this project!

steps:

  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 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. 

Recommended Products:

Created using Craft Card Maker

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:


blue and white wall art and vintage botanical wall art






diy sun prints made with fern leaves



17 comments

  1. What a great idea for custom art! I love the graphic look of the leaves!

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

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  2. I love these! Fun, easy and such a great idea!

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    1. Thank you, Cindy! Easy is my favorite kind of project!

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

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  4. This is the best idea! I love the art that you created.

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    1. Thanks, Paula! It's a really fun and simple project!

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  5. This is an awesome idea! I love the blue!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Michelle! I'm really crushing on blue these days!

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  6. 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.

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    1. Thank you! I saw it on pinterest and had to try it for myself!

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  7. 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!

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  8. 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!

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  9. Oooooh, I am going to do this!! It is such a cool idea for wall art!!

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  10. I can't wait to try this for Fall, Angie! This tutorial is EXCELLENT!

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

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I love hearing from you, and your comments make my day!