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How to make sun prints

If you are going on a field trip, you can take paper with you to make sun prints or you can bring back objects for prints to the classroom.

You can make sun prints in many ways. If you have ever left construction paper out in a room you have probably discovered how dark colors will differ in shade depending on their exposure to light. You can use this same method to create your sun print. Using black or dark construction paper (dark greens, dark reds, browns, and dark golds are nice for contrasts in a collage), arrange objects on paper that you want outlined. If the sun is strong, it will take 45 minutes to an hour for the sun to create a distinctive difference in the paper. If the sun is weak (winter months or late in the day), it might take longer.

If you can get some blueprint paper, this also can be used for the sun prints. [teacher note: Blueprint paper can be purchased in blue or sepia colors as rolls. This is the most economical way to purchase this type of paper. If you keep it in the dark in a mailing tube, a roll can last several years.] Place the blueprint paper so that the white side is down and the blue side up. Arrange the objects that you want outlined on the paper. Leave only for about 10 minutes if the sun is strong. You can roll up your picture until you return to the classroom. For pictures developed on blueprint paper, you can place the paper into a cool water bath to stabilize colors. Then dry on newspaper out of direct sunlight. Do not expose the prints to strong sun even after they have been dipped in water. The exposures will fade. These prints can be framed attractively.

You can also buy sun-sensitive paper at many craft stores. This paper can be used in a similar way. Follow the directions on the package. Usually the pieces of paper are small, so you will have to be selective in the types of objects you want outlined or you will have to think about how you might want to create a collage of images. [teacher note: Have the students experiment with leaving the materials exposed for different lengths of time. Ask them to relate to their own sun exposure.]

Next: Mud cloth