April 1, 2010

Sun Print Silhouette

About a week ago I was puttering around the teacher supply store buying things that make my children hate that their mother was once a teacher (I know you don't have handwriting homework Briton but I bought you this nice special lined writing paper so we can practice and practice and practice, doesn't that sound fun?) and I came across a package of sunprint paper. Even as an adult I never get tired of peeling back a leaf or a flower and dipping it in water to see the chemicals wash away and leave a ghost of themselves behind on the paper. So I snatched it up and brought it home along with the color coded dice, the pencil grip and the handwriting book.

Since it's spring there are no end of little flowers and plants to make sunprints but I had been toying with the thought of making silhouettes and the idea of using the sunprint paper to do them popped into my head when I saw the paper sitting there on the shelf.

Silhouettes are one of those timeless, elegant things that I always see and think "huh, I really like those, I should do one of the kids!" but never do. The idea of trying to draw their profiles when I can hardly draw a stick figure put me off the idea to begin with and then, even when I saw the technique (somewhere, maybe Design*Sponge?) of using a digital camera to get the image I still hesitated. After the spring wreath project I've been steering away from fiddly cutting projects (ok, I haven't though because this ended up being a fiddly cutting project too, let's just say I'm lazy!) But once the sunprint paper was in hand I decided what the hey, time to give it a go. And I totally loved it!

The hardest part of this is getting the shot. Thank goodness for digital cameras because I took about 50 shots of the kids, most of them with their heads turned toward me at the last moment to tell me "one more thing mommy!" but eventually I got some good ones and then it was just a matter of sizing them to fit on the paper and printing them out (* Hint * print these on heavy paper, like card stock and on the draft setting. It's easier to cut and to use later and you don't waste a lot of ink int he process.)

I probably don't need to tell you how you do a sunprint but just in case you never went to camp (or elementary school) you set the paper, with the image on top, under glass and out in the sun for a few minutes, there's not real science to how long because it depends on how bright the sun is. The packaging says until the paper turns white but mine never did, I ended up leaving it out for about 4 minutes. The kit came with a piece of plexi glass the size of the paper but it left a ghost of an image where the sun hit the edges so I opted for a larger piece of glass (borrowed out of a picture frame, I don't just keep glass lying around, promise!)

Once the paper has been exposed you have to rinse it to set the image and wash out the chemicals. When you take the silhouette off the exposed areas will be lighter that the image but once under water that will switch and you'll have a white on blue copy of your child (or your cat, who am I to say who you make your silhouette of).

The package I bought from the teacher supply store actually turned out to be expired so the image was a light blue rather than a white. The manufactures kindly sent me another set but I did some with both the expired and the new paper and like them both. I think I'll still try traditional silhouettes just for fun, but I have to say I love the sort of funky modern vibe I get from the sun print version.

What do we think? Weird or fun? Would you hang those on your wall?