I first came across sun prints, also known as cyanotype several years ago. I loved the idea at first sight. I have used it in a coupla my classes but since I don’t do as many design and craft classes as I used to, I have not done the activity in a while.
As I was looking for ideas to do during the stem classes for summer camp, sun prints came to mind. Now the question became: after you do the printing, what do you do with it? Just printing the fabric could not be the only aspect to this activity. You could frame it but buying 17 frames for the students was going to be expensive plus it was not enough activity for the class.
Then I thought that maybe they could make their own rustic frame using dwells and then hang the sun print in the window. I liked the idea and so I presented that to my director at school. But then we had the whole issue with the rain during the first week of summer camp and had to change the activities around. And as we were trying to figure out if I had to scratch all my activities, I came across a better idea for the sun prints.
I saw these wall hangings that looked like scrolls. I thought it was more elegant looking and there was enough work in there for the kiddos. So the night before I cut out all the fabric pieces but when I arrived at school the next day, I found out that because of last minute sign ups, I was short on the white background fabric by two pieces.
I stretched out the first part of the class, we ended up not having to use the white fabric. I thought I had some extra canvas fabric but could find it any where. So I changed materials. I had some lovely Thai paper that I decided to donate to the class. It ended up working really well.
Its definitely a fun way to spend a sunny afternoon.
Supplies: cyanotype fabric (I wanted my final design to be 6″ x 9″ so I cut the fabric 7″ x 10″), canvas fabric (I cut the fabric 9″ x 12″ so that I created about an 1.5″ to 2″ border around the cyanotype design) , 1/4 inch wide wooden dowels 12 inches long (of note, I did use 1/8 wide dowels for this tutorial because that is what we had on hand at the summer camp), different objects for designing your pattern (this can be anything from cutouts, feathers, leaves, toys etc. Basically all you will be to print is the outline of an object. Things like feathers or even some leaves are nice because they have separation between their long and skinny bits that allow for more definition than say just a simple heart cut out) acrylic glass or clear tape
If you purchased the mural sized cyanotype fabric, cut out the desired size for your design. Please make sure you are working in an area away from sunlight. Then place the different objects onto the fabric to create your design. Once you are happy with the design place an acrylic glass wide enough to cover your design or use clear tape to hold the objects down. Then move your design into direct sunlight. How long it takes to develop your design depends on whether the fabric is placed in direct sunlight or not. Read manufacturers directions.
I left my design to develop for 10 minutes. The photo above shows what the design looks like right after ti has been removed from the sunlight and all the objects have been removed.
For this next step, it can be done either in a bowl of cool water or under a faucet with running water. If using the water in the bowl method, you may have to refill it with fresh water several times. Basically at this point, you are rinsing the cyanotype chemicals out of the fabric.
Rinse the fabric until the water runs clear. And as you rinse, you will see the vibrant blue color come out.
I hung my design to dry for 5 to 10 minutes. I did not let it dry all the way as I wanted to iron it before moving on to the next step. As you know, if you want to remove wrinkles from cotton fabrics, there has to be a little dampness to the fabric.
Just finished ironing the fabric. I then cut out the edges to give me a nice clean area to work with. I used a rotary cutter (it looks like a pizza cutter but is sharper and made for cutting fabric and other materials like leather) and a ruler to get sharp and precise edges. You can also fold the edges to get back of the fabric and either glue them down or sew them down. I did the straight cut to reduce my work load since I had 17 kids in my class. Anyway, once the edges are done, set aside.
For the edges of the background fabric, I decided that a fringe would look good. You do this by pulling out the long threads running parallel to the long edge until you have a good sized fringe. Trim if you need to to get an even fringe.
All done with the fringe.
Next turn the fabric so that the right also known as the front of the fabric is facedown. Add a bout a 1/2 inch to 1 inch wide (How wide it is depends on how wide your dowel is. The wider the dowel, the wider the glue line) line of glue from the top edge. Then center the dowel on the fabric and place it down towards the end of the glue line.
This is how it should look.
Then fold the glued edge over the dowel to the fabric. Press tightly on to the dowel as well as the fabric. Repeat on the bottom. You should have something that looks like a scroll.
Turn the scroll right side up and take your design and center it on top. I like to do this step cos it gives you an idea of the final design placement. Once you are happy with it, set the scroll aside and turn the design up side down.
Apply glue to all of the edges, making especially certain that all of the corners have sufficient coverage.
Then carefully center your design over the front of the scroll. Make any adjustments needed before firmly pressing down on the edges and corners.
Voila! My sun print wall hanging is all done. Perfect!