Sun Prints

23 04 2008

Being at my parents always brings back memories. To top it off, they have a gigantic house filled with remnants of our past. They’re trying to pair down all the stuff in preparation for retirement and the simpler life. I’ve gotta tell you though, I almost don’t want them to. I’m proud of their efforts to reduce the material side of their life but I’ve also always been proud of how they never waste anything. All scraps and miscellany have always been kept for future projects. As we’ve always been a very prolific family when it comes to creative projects that means an unbelievable amount of miscellany. When I got the wild hair to do leaf rubbings, not only did they have the perfect materials, we ran across plenty of other inspirational items. One such was a package of Sunprint paper. Seeing as they use to sell these kits in their store which closed in 1981, this little kit was more than 25 years old. Would it still work? You betcha!

Although the kits are meant for ages 6 and up I thought we could give it a try. I’m guessing there are two reasons for this age bracket – danger of ingestion of the chemical paper and the patience needed to complete the project. Regardless it worked fine for us. As this was a spur of the moment project I, of course, didn’t read the directions very carefully and pretty much went from childhood memory. Luckily it all worked out OK in this area as well. For those of you that haven’t seen sunprints, it’s simply a chemical reaction to the sunlight hitting the special paper. We only made a couple due to that patience requirement I was talking about. That, and the fact that I didn’t want to go all gun ho only to find out the paper was too old.

The first step, in the shade I might add, was placing the paper on a board and something opaque on the paper. We then laid a small sheet of glass over the top to hold it steady. The kits actually come with plexiglass but our sheet must have been lost in the last 25+ years, so I used a small sheet of regular glass from a picture frame instead.

We left the paper for a few minutes until it turned white and then ran it under water to stop the development. I would recommend having a pot of water on hand to place the images in that you can then place a lid on to block out the sunlight. This would probably make for a more crisp print. After a few minutes under water we laid the images out to dry. As the papers dried inside I was a little worried as the whole sheet was turning blue. I guessed that the paper must have just been too old. Not the case! In fact the areas turned white by the sun then turned blue and the areas that were blue under the opaque items turned white. Obviously I had forgotten this part. We left the papers to dry on the counter and then flattened them under a heavy book and ended up with these:

Simple but still fun. This is not the best photo, still if I had read the directions and planned a little better the images would have been much more crisp. Now that I know the paper is still good, we’ll certainly be trying these again during our next visit. Maybe next time we can use some kitchen gadgets or get into my mom’s button collection to find our opaque items. I can certainly see Seth getting more into these as he gets older. It’s a nice little science experiment to boot. Check out the Sunprints gallery of images and tips page for more info.

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3 responses

23 04 2008
Gwyn

I always wonder about buying that paper as its quite expensive – maybe the patience factor would let us down!

30 04 2008
Jen

Holy cow, I have the exact same package in our craft supplies. (Complete with the green-colored refill pack.) Circa 1979, isn’t it? I remember watching in awe as the images appeared out of nowhere. I so love that you busted yours out and that it worked! Now I’m inspired to do the same…so fun. Thanks!

15 10 2008
Julie

it’s kool. kinda expensive for many pieces of paper but it’s worth it
i’ll buy one
http://www.innovatoys.com/p/SNPTKL <— only $12.95 this is cheaper than amazon

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