Harnessing the power of the nearest star

See this happy sun? It’s from Chloe’s birthday card, hence the little 6s on the cheeks. It’s a happy sun…and very, very bright…

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Tomorrow, I’m hoping the skies are clear and the sun shines bright. While we all know that “the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home,” but time and again those dark clouds from out of state roll through and cover up the sun’s rays… In any case, it’s particularly important that it’s sunny, and not just because sunlight positively affects my mood. Tomorrow, we’ll be making sun prints as our science project for CC. Without the sun, we’re sort of up a creek, if you know what I mean.

So…what are sun prints, you ask?

The answer comes from the paper itself, a sun-sensitive printing paper that allows the crafter to create different images with everyday objects and a few minutes of imaginative ideas. And sunlight.

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You can buy this paper cheaply online through many different vendors, but here’s the link to the original company:

http://www.natureprintpaper.com/

The first thing to know about this easy project is that time is of the essence. Once the paper is exposed to the sunlight, it begins to develop immediately. So before one starts, it’s a good idea for one to have the idea and design for the paper all set either in the imagination or next to the paper. This is not meant to agitate the anxiety gland of the homeschool mom’s endocrine system, but somehow it does. Multiply this sense of urgency times 16 children for each round of sun-printing, and we’ve got ourselves a project worth writing home about!

I’m optimistic, however, for both sunny skies and sunny spirits as we embark on this journey into letting the sun print our masterpieces!

The steps are quite simple. First, start with the supplies seen below..

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Flat objects work best to create clean lines, so I borrowed my mom’s Sizzix machine and cut out various die cut shapes for the kids to use, such as balloons, stars, butterflies, and snowflakes. I also used the paper left over from the cut outs, as well as doilies that I finally found at Hobby Lobby. Most any object will work, but this is what I assembled.

The only thing I left out was paper towel, which is necessary to dry your print on once it’s completed.

Here’s one of my two helpers assisting me in my run-through before class tomorrow. Andrew scurried around the yard to find the best two leaves, and still had to pluck one off the tree to get one he liked.

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Here’s helper number 2, most excited to play in the water.

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Once you have an idea of the shapes and arrangement that you’d like your print paper to have, quickly remove one piece of paper from the sun protective envelope and lay the objects onto the paper. While it’s not necessary, a piece of glass from a 5×7 frame helps to keep the objects in place if the sunny day also carries a bit of wind. It’s important to keep the objects in the same place while the paper develops to avoid blurred lines.

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Allow the sun to do its work for at least two minutes, but while the paper is developing, you should be able to watch the color turn from a deep blue when you start to a paler blue. Unless you’re color blind, of course, in which case a timer would really come in handy. Or a five-year-old helper who constantly asks, “Is it done? Now? How about now? Can I play in the water while we wait? Ummm, can I use that paper towel to clean up the water I just spilled? …… Is it done now????”

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When the appropriate time has elapsed, quickly remove the glass plate (DO NOT THROW IT ASIDE, young helper boy!!!) and peel off the objects from the paper. It should be evident that something has happened to the paper, but we’re not done yet!

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The next step is to submerge the paper in a tub of water. Make sure the water gets to every part of it–this is how to stop the sun from affecting the paper any further. The colors may change a bit when it initially hits the water, but after the drying is completed, it will all be O-K. Deep breaths.

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After leaving it in the water for about a minute or so, remove it from the water and place the paper on a piece of paper towel until dry. The results will be a nifty picture that you can say you created with a celestial body a mere 93 million miles away!

Here’s another step-by-step look at the second try with leaves. I will say that the leaves moved quite a bit more than the die cuts, so that’s something to consider if you’re going to try this at home.

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Here is the gallery of the finished products of the four examples we fashioned. They turned out lovely, and I’m very hopeful that every student tomorrow will be able to take home an equally amazing sun print.

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See what I mean about the leaf image coming out a bit blurry? The leaves shifted before we could place the glass securely.

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We shall see if the sun cooperates and the students enjoy this project as much as we did at home!

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