DIY Cyanotype Sun Prints

Have you ever experimented with cyanotype paper? I think I did some sun prints in a summer camp art class when I was a kid, so I sort of knew the (incredibly easy) steps in the back of my mind! I was excited to try the project again for some art in our playroom.

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The supplies are super affordable and the design possibilities are endless, so if your room needs a little (or a big) pop of blue, like our playroom did, grab yourself a box or two of Sun Print paper and have at it!

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Here are the simple steps and some of my favorite ideas for items to use when making your design:

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Step 1: Gather up your supplies and objects. I bought two packs of 8×10 Sun Print paper. You’ll also need a 9×13 pan filled with water and a tablespoon or so of lemon juice as well as a roll of paper towels.

Step 2: The paper should stay in it’s package until you’re ready to go. As soon as the paper is exposed to sunlight, the chemical reactions start, so be ready to go! Once you’ve arranged your objects, place the paper in full sun for about a minute. It takes some experimenting with the exposure time, so that’s why it’s a good idea to buy extra paper.

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Step 3: Pull off the objects and submerge the paper in your pan of lemon water for about 30 seconds. Lay flat on sheets of paper towel to dry completely. The blue color in the paper will deepen and develop while the paper dries. The longer you left the paper out in the sun, the more dark the blue will be.

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Step 4: The paper will wrinkle and curl a bit while drying, but it’s easy to press between heavy books later to flatten the paper again. If you’re framing the sun prints like I did, you won’t even need to worry about that step.

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I used one of those Toobs of plastic animals for my sun prints and I think they turned out cute. The outline of the animals ends up getting a little blurry since they were three dimensional and some of the light gets around the sides of the figurines, but I’m okay with that sort of abstract look. More flat items make a much more distinct image. That’s why flowers and leaves work so well! I’d love to try an arranged pattern like in these prints I saw recently in a local shop.

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Other ideas for objects to use for making Sun Prints:

your child’s hand

jewelry for a closet or dressing area

buttons, ribbon and craft supplies for a craft room

clothes pins for a laundry room

fruits and veggies for a kitchen or pantry

feathers or shells

keys from all your former homes, apartments and cars

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Have you tried cyanotype printing before? What worked well for you?

  1. Lou

    I just made some sun prints of flowers in our yard to hang in our dining room and they turned out great!

  2. Kelsey

    Love this idea! Book marking for warmer weather!

  3. Kimberly

    Love it! What frames did you use?

  4. Kris

    Hi Jenny! What color paint did you use on your thinnest rocker? Love the way it turned out!

  5. Elizabeth

    Hi, what store were you when you took that selfie?

  6. chris

    The prints turned out so lovely! I have wanted to do large scale piece for my living room for ages. I ordered paper before Christmas and now you’ve given me the impetus to actually make it.

  7. Big fan of your blog and all of your tips! I’d like to give you my own… I always buy from this store in Brazil, they have handmade products made by craftsmen in small cities all over the country, all put together in one store. They also have a brick and mortar store in a beach city called Trancoso, this is their website: http://www.divinostrancoso.com.br. Hope you all like it just as much as I do! =)

  8. Where are those white frames from? Love this idea!

  9. Toni

    I love the jewelry idea for my bedroom. Thanks!

  10. Oh Wow!
    I’ve never heard of this paper. Now I’m all ready to rush out to an Art supply store to find some.

  11. Wow! This looks really beautiful and is a project I will work on with my daughter. But I have never heard of cyanotype paper. Sounds like something you get from specialist stores and I will try to hunt them down in Michaels. Thanks for the illustration. Quite the inspiration!

  12. Jennifer

    Where is a good place to find upholstery companies? I have a big commercial project coming up and was wondering if anyone could recommend some places to look to?

  13. Lauren Tien

    I know this post is about prints, but THAT ROCKER. Gah. All the heart eyes. Can we just be neighbors so that I can have home design inspiration in person? I just love your home, from new york to here!

  14. Alex

    I love that rug!

  15. I’ve never heard of this but this is awesome! I’m determined now to find a place for this in my home! Is the only type of paper available blue?

  16. Kathryn

    I love these! They look a bit reminiscient of x-rays from the way that the light has gone around the edges. I had some of that paper when I was younger but only ever did a few things with it because I didn’t want to waste it (story of my crafting life). I wonder if it has a shelf life, because it must still be in a drawer somewhere…

  17. Pingback: DIY Cyanotype Sun Prints - Little Green Notebook - KORULY

  18. I love cyanotype. I’m an artist and it’s been my main medium for over 20 years. I’ve developed an intense process where I hand-coat my paper, fabric and even concrete, but I love seeing the medium so accessible. Thanks for sharing! In my work I use plants, particularly ferns and orchids. You can see them here: instagram.com/hlisasolon

  19. Jade

    Wow, that is so lovely. I really do like these cyanotypes. I didn’t know how to make them before, though!

    Jade | https://www.jadesouk.com/

  20. Me Cher

    Have you ever done a post on your nursery?

  21. This is such a cute idea! There are so many different places that this type of home decor can be placed in, as you outlined above. The fact that you can make these pieces unique to the room or the person makes it a bit more special.

  22. I hadn’t use this paper for decades! This idea is really cool. With a bit of artistry you can really create something good to customize your home decoration. Very good idea, very good blog. Congratulations!

  23. Hi,
    Really very nice post.
    This is such a cute idea

  24. I love these! They look a bit reminiscient of x-rays from the way that the light has gone around the edges. I had some of that paper when I was younger but only ever did a few things with it because I didn’t want to waste it (story of my crafting life). I wonder if it has a shelf life, because it must still be in a drawer somewhere…

  25. Pingback: saying c-ya with cyanotype: DIY cyanotype key sunprints – awfully big adventure

  26. skype

    The supplies are super affordable and the design possibilities are endless, so if your room needs a little (or a big) pop of blue, like our playroom did, grab yourself a box or two of Sun Print paper and have at it!

  27. tks sharing, it is usefull

  28. Beautiful, sometimes it seems so easy to create decorative art… but you need inspiration! Thanks for this post. Great blog!

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