It's fun and easy to use the sun to make prints from leaves or other objects, using cotton fabric and transparent fabric paints. You can use the resulting fabric to make napkins, bags, clothing, or use it in a quilt or wall hanging.
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials Including Leaves and Flowers
I like to gather plant material just before doing the painting, so that it is flexible and not dried out. I used leaves from wild roses, and daisies. You can use paper cut outs instead of plant material too.
You will also need cotton (white or beige) fabric such as muslin, or silk, a brush, and transparent fabric paints (brands include Pebeo Setacolor and Kraftcolor SunDyes). I did my painting on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil to keep things neat, but you can use any surface to paint on.
Step 2: Apply Water and Paint to Fabric
Brush a thin layer of water on the fabric to wet it, then brush undiluted paint on top. Cover the entire surface with paint.
You can get great effects by using 2 or more colors. In this instructable, I just used one color, Pebeo Setacolor fuschia.
Step 3: Add Leaves and Flowers
While the fabric is still wet, lay down the leaves, flowers, or other media, pressing lightly onto the fabric. Put your fabric in a sunny spot to dry away from the wind. (If necessary, you can dry the fabric indoors under fluorescent lights, but this works best outside on a sunny day).
Step 4: Once Fabric Is Dry, Remove Leaves and Flowers
Lift up a corner to make sure the fabric is dry and the image is clear. As the sun dries out the fabric, the dye/water mixture will migrate towards the dry area, leaving a "negative" impression where the leaf was.
Step 5: Heat Set by Ironing
Iron the fabric for 30 seconds on the setting appropriate for the fabric you have used (e.g. cotton). This sets the dye and makes it washable in cold water. Now your fabric is ready to enjoy!