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Honour the Child

Blog Archive

BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Monday, 28 July 2014
Painting with the sun is a great craft project for kids (with some adult help!).
Even here, in the land that the sun forgot...
(or at least the land that summer forgot!).
This past long winter I performed an act of hope... I purchased sun paints...
and have been waiting ever since for the magical combination of time + sunshine.
This week, I performed an act of desperation, and tried sun painting anyway.

What is sun painting?
To sun paint, you use a light sensitive fabric paint (such as Setacolor Fabric Paints by Pebeo) and a variety of resists (paper templates, natural objects, small items) to create your own one-of-a-kind results! When placed in sunlight, the paints will dry, leaving the image of your resist on the fabric in surprising and wonderful ways.  You can then use the fabric for other projects, or simply hoop and hang your new artwork!
Materials & Supplies:
Heliographic paints ('sun paints')
• Surface protection (plastic table cloth, garbage bag etc)
• moveable surface (ie cardboard larger than your project)
• paint brushes, foam brushes, sponges... whatever you have or prefer
• natural fabric, prewashed ~ cotton (100% is best), silk, bamboo OR clothing
• containers for mixing and storing paint
• spray bottle for water (optional)
• paper templates/ shapes, leaves, marbles, buttons, string... for resists
• embroidery hoop (optional)
• SUNSHINE and lots of it

 A word about the paints:
The Setacolor paints are very thick, and a little goes a long way. We mixed them 1:3 with water.  They are transparent paints, so they will blend easily with one another (meaning you can make pretty much every colour you need if you just buy the primary colours) and will dry much lighter than they go on ~ for a deeper finish, use more paint, less water. They are intended for light coloured backgrounds, but you can purchase a version for dark fabric.  You can apply the paints in a variety of ways~ brushes, sponges, spray bottles, splatter ~ be creative!
The paints look super cool when added to the  water!

A word about the fabrics:
These paints work best for sun painting on a pre-dampened fabric, and one which absorbs water easily (therefore a fabric with high natural fiber content works much better). Do not use paint canvasses... they are meant to be painted ON and not to absorb the colour... we learned this one the hard way! Fabric should be prewashed (even by hand, hot + dish soap) to remove any sizing or surface treatment (sericin from silk).  You can simply lay your fabric out to paint it, pin it or use an embroidery hoop to stretch it taut.

Let's do this!
1)  Prepare your space, paints and fabric.
Protect your workspace with a plastic cover.
Mix your paints with water (1:3 works well).
Put your moveable surface under the fabric.
Moisten your fabric with spray bottle or other method.
Lay the fabric out for paint application ~ do this out of direct sunlight to give yourself the most time to play!
Embroidery hoops were definitely the easiest for kids (and me!) to work with the fabric.
 2) Apply the paint.
Take risks and have fun! Remember, the colours will blend~ with children, encourage them to leave white space between colours if they don't want blending (or brown... I always got brown in art class as a kid!).

3) Add your resists.
This is the part the kids really love... deciding what they want to use to print on their fabric!
What a perfect excuse for a nature hike!
(go ahead, we'll wait until you get back....)
Ideally every resist should be flat... or if not flat, making significant contact with the fabric, especially if your  day is not-so-sunny.
You can use straight pins (or pebbles) to hold down leaves, feathers and other lightweight items, especially on a windy day.
These leaves were *not* flat enough to be effective.
These items worked much better!

Once you are happy with your object placement, move your fabric (this is where the moveable surface comes in handy, or the embroidery hoop!) into the sun.
Goatling supervision is not required, but it is cute! And all I know is *someone* stole the ferns off of our first sun paintings!
 The hotter and more direct the sun, the faster and more dramatic the printing effect will be.
(with kids, dramatic will make you look way cooler than making prints on a cloudy day!)
Leave the fabric in the sun until completely dry (at least one hour).
And try not to peek!

4) The Big Reveal.
Bring your fabric back to your original work surface.
Cue dramatic music, or a drum roll made on the table top will do...
and remove the items from the surface to reveal what you (and the sun, give credit!) have done!
At this point, a little swish with a hot iron to ensure the colour is fully set is a good idea.
Your fabric is colorfast and ready to use!

You can do a million things with your fancy new fabric!
Sew it, hoop it, use it for wrapping gifts...
Or try sun painting tshirts, bandanas, cotton canvas shoes or silk scarves....
Whatever you do, have fun and be creative!
Leftover paint can be stored in an airtight container, out of the sun, for several weeks.

{{for our projects, Rowan (9) chose to work with natural found objects and I pulled out my Grandmother's button tin and a small piece of Nottingham lace she handed down to me!}}♥♥


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