Mix Up Your Materials in Some Solar Powered Art!

There’s been some blazing hot weather on both sides of the Atlantic and now that the children are finally all off school we figured it was time to harness some of those solar rays! We’ve discovered sun-sensitive paper that can record your nature collages and imagination in a beautiful permanent record. Take a look…

We used Toysmith Solar Print Kit (UK) which came with clear instructions and was very effective. We did stray from their instructions in the name of art and adventure but the principle remains the same.  You can just use the refill paper (UK) instead but the full set is nice to have.  In the UK this Sun Print Kit from Tobar looks similar and more reasonably priced.

To make our mixed media collage prints you’ll need:



1.Collect up some nature treasures, either from around your garden or on a little nature hike. Leaves, grasses, flowers and seeds are all great to work with.

2.Think about what kind of habitat you can create from the leaves and other natural items you found. Keep your solar print paper sealed up in the cool while you plan and practice.

The possibilities are endless but we were most impressed with the results from these three ideas.

The shells and sharks came out of last week’s shark sensory bin; they seemed a great fit for the pond weed like structure of these plant leaves.  The evergreen trees made a fab dinosaur habitat – we used a dino stencil and some foam stickers that we found in a bottom  of a draw.  And the clover from our ‘lawn’ made me think of pixies and rainbows but when I found the butterfly prints the boys decided we could make a lovely butterfly garden.

3. Once you have planned your design you can start to lay the items on the blue side of the solar paper that you need to remove carefully from the light-proof bag one sheet at a time. We set it all out in the shade of the garden table before lifting it up carefully and transferring it to the full sun exposed of the table itself.  Be careful if it is breezy, you don’t want anything to blow away. (There was a cardboard frame to press and hold the collage in place but we didn’t use it because of the bulkier collage items. Although, with hindsight, putting the design on a board would have made it easier to lift into the sun!)

4. Place your finished design in the sun for about three minutes – until the blue has faded completely.  If the weather isn’t super bright, don’t worry, it will just take a little longer to completely fade. When you remove the collage items you’ll be left with a blue shadows like this.

Solar Art process

5. You need to then rinse the paper under water for 1 minute until the blue and white colors are reversed! Both the white and the blue will get stronger as they air dry.

Once dry, you can use your designs in other projects such as card making, book marks or door plates, or simply frame and display them.  For birthday cards you could use number and letter stickers (UK) to add to the design.

We really enjoyed this activity and it was nice because there was something in it for every age group.  Little brother loved collecting the treasures and that his finds helped make our joint art.  Big brother was fascinated by the magic of the science in the photo-sensitive paper. He also observed the detail and shadowing cause by light seeping under the curved objects.  The reaction when the light hits the chemical soaked paper changes its molecular structure and thus changes it’s color.  But here’s the clever bit… The original chemical is water soluble so washes away leaving just the white paper visible in the areas that had been shaded while new molecules created by the reaction to the light are not soluble and remain but react to the water’s presence in an oxidation and turn blue! It’s a really interesting process.

I hope you’ll give it a try. Let us know what you come up with!

Disclosure: Contains affiliate links from which I may earn a small percentage on qualifying purchases. This does not affect the price that you pay in any way.









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