How to Make Sunprints

how to make sunprints

I’m in love with the fall season, and now that I have little ones, it’s somehow more fun to break into the pumpkin-pie-goblin-turkey spirit. We “Boo-ed” our neighbors last night, something I’d recommend to anyone interested in generating some old-fashioned community spirit, and my daughter got a kick out of ringing doorbells and running down the street! Ay-ya-yay.

Yesterday we opened up a new bag of sunprint fabric squares (affiliate) that I’ve been saving for just the right time, and I can attest that this project is easy, rewarding, and toddler-approved.  

What are Sun Prints?

Sunprints are technically cyanotypes, a type of photograph made without a camera. The sunprint fabric is light sensitive and produces a negative image when exposed to sunlight or very intense artificial light.

Benefits of Making Sun Prints with Kids

On the creativity side of things, this activity presents good opportunities to explore nature, experiment with composition, and discuss the process of developing photographs (a far-off concept for today’s digitally saturated world). 

And now that we’ve entered the highly addictive land-of-sunprints, I can see all kinds of potential for printing small toys, fridge letter magnets, stickers, flowers, and other little knick-knacks.

how to make sunprintsStep 1: Start with a batch of leaves.

We collected ours on a walk the other day, and I’m proud to report that my 2-year old can recognize a maple leaf! She trumps her urban mama in her nature-knowledge every time.

how to make sunprintsStep 2: Get your fall spirit on. Note: ambient candle and pinecones are necessary.

Step 3: Open pack of sun print fabric. Be sure to keep all unused pieces in the dark, dark package. Exposure to light makes them useless later on.

how to make sunprintsStep 4: Place leaves on the fabric and set it out in the bright sun for about 15 minutes (or whatever it says in your package)

how to make sunprintsThis is an excellent way to reinforce the value of patience!

how to make sunprints
Step 5: Rinse in cool water…

how to make sunprints…and voila! Your sun print is ready. Just wait for it to dry and then use if like you’d use any piece of fabric. 

Some ideas: it could be stitched onto a bag, t-shirt, or quilt. N decided attach hers to a bag. Sounds like a good thing to collect more leaves in!


  1. This one really made my jaw drop. It came out so clear and defined! Can’t wait to see what it turns into.

    • The clarity of the image is what makes this so appealing. We’ll keep you posted…

  2. we’re gonna try tomorrow. will michael’s have sunprinting fabric?

    • cool! i’d love hear how it goes. i’d give michael’s a call, and if they don’t have it a good bet would be an art supply store. generally, the sunprint paper is easier to come by than the fabric. if you decide to wait a couple days, our discount school supply order arrived in about 2 days since it was shipped from california.

  3. Will sun prints work with artificial light, such as grow lamps or daylight bulbs?

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