Sun Printing for Summer

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Summer is beginning to show her first signs of settling in here in Texas, and with the arrival of our sunniest season comes the opportunity to use the sun to make some amazing crafts. Have you ever heard of cyanotypes, or sun printing?

Sun printing on fabric is a wonderful way to capture the summer sunshine and your favorite flowers, leaves, or seed pods. The chemically-treated light-sensitive fabric is available in silks and cottons, and is an incredibly easy canvas on which to design gorgeous botanic prints.
Sun printing was an early photographic process that was refined by Anna Atkins, a botanist who used the light-sensitive paper to reproduce images of plant specimens. It’s easy to make your own fabric cyanotypes.

Sun printing on fabric lets you use the plants in your garden to create beautiful patterns, and the resulting fabric can be made into clothing or a framed work of art. In this post, we will teach you how to make a cyanotype with easy step-by-step instructions.

Two things to remember: First, there are lots of fabrics (and plants!) to design with, so experiment with test fabrics to get a feel for how different types of plants will print; second, watch the weather! Plan around wind, clouds, and, of course, rain.

Let’s try a Dandelion Print!
All you need is a sunny day and several tools:

  • Sunprint fabric (we like charmeuse silk for dresses and stunning framed prints)
  • Plant cuttings
  • Pins
  • Foam core board
  • An iron
  • Plexiglass (optional), for holding the plants flat against the fabric
For a beautiful project that also makes a great gift, experiment with very thin details, and see if you can capture the breezy dispersal motion of a dandelion seedpod. A popular find is specimens of Giant Dandelion (Showy Goat’s-beard, Tragopogon pratensis).

Use Plexiglass to secure the airy heads (and to prevent them from blowing away), and then, as an additional flattening measure, use boards and weights to hold down the edge of the Plexiglass to press the thin seeds against the cyanotype fabric.

After 12 minutes in the Texas sun, remove your plant and give the fabric a thorough rinse. Hang the fabric to dry.

Frame your print, or use it to create a beautiful pillow, tote bag, or quilting square.

The possibilities are endless. We’d love to see what you create. Show us in the comments!
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