Making Prints While The Sun Shines: Paper

Materials: Sun print paper, various items, Plexiglas (optional)

The other day, G and I experimented with the sun print paper that recently arrived. (I couldn’t find it locally, so I ended up ordering some.)

Buttons, maple leaves, fern

It’s really simple to use, and reminds me of my first darkroom assignment, aimed at getting us used to using the enlarger: we scattered various items across some photographic paper, exposed it in the darkroom, and then developed it. This works the same way. Inside, we arranged some items on the paper, blue side up. Because our items were flat, I sandwiched the paper between two pieces of Plexiglas before bringing it all outside. The sun was so strong that the paper paled within a minute or so, and then we dunked it in water to stop the reaction and “develop” it.

(I found the Plexiglas in a box of old darkroom supplies when I went looking for the piece of glass I used to use for contact sheets. I thought the glass would be handy for this, and ended up finding the four sheets of Plexiglas I used to use to cover the trays of chemicals. I cleaned them all off and have been finding uses for them ever since!)

Today, we got the boys involved. These are N’s papers:

Pattern blocks, Lego pieces, Hero Factory pieces

These are mine (the skate egg cases) and G’s:

Play pasta, pattern blocks, mermaid's purses (skate egg cases)

These are V’s and more of G’s:

Look closely--Lego figures!

The Plexiglas came in really handy–we arranged our items on the paper, which was on the Plexiglas, in the hallway inside, which, if all the doors are closed, doesn’t get much natural light. Then I was able to carry the Plexiglas outside without disturbing anything. We did this in the morning, and you might be able to see that shadows were cast. That made for some interesting prints, because the shadows also show up, but lighter. (Click to embiggen the photos a bit.)

V's prints on left; N's on right

N really liked how the sun shone through his Hero Factory pieces a bit, so those images weren’t as sharp. I love the Lego figure print on the bottom left.

G's (mostly) & mine

G was so deliberate in placing the pieces. The boys were, too, but G really took quite a while in arranging her blocks, pasta, and buttons. We like how she put one of N’s Hero Factory pieces half off the paper in the top left print up above there.

Remember my mermaid’s purse print? I didn’t realize I had two pieces of paper stuck together. (Note: Make sure your hands are completely dry from rinsing the last batch before you grab more paper!) We ended up with a ghost print, as N identified it–and although the term “ghost print” comes from monotype printing I’d say he used it correctly here:

Pretty cool and completely unexpected result! And also–phew, the sun beats on our deck pretty strongly in July!

As you might be able to tell by the title, we experimented with other forms of sun printing as well…more to come, as long as the sun keeps shining!

5 thoughts on “Making Prints While The Sun Shines: Paper

  1. Mrs. Plum

    That paper is so cool! I did a similar project with my first graders, but we just used cheap construction paper. I love that with this paper the color appears.

    1. amy

      That’s a great use for the cheap construction paper we still may have lying around–it’s not good for much else, really! I think we’ll try that for a different effect. The sun is super strong here this time of year so it’s a great time to experiment!

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