I always love it when Science and Art come together in a project.
The children explored the power of the sun, plants, and water absorption this week, and the results were beautiful.
I was interested in the idea of doing sun-prints, but wanted to explore a different process rather than the sun-print paper that we have used in the past. As I searched for an alternative idea I found a post about sun-printing on fabric. Here is the link if you would like to check it out: Sun Print Tote. This was a great post, but when I tried the process using watered down acrylic paint, it didn't quite work. But if at first you don't succeed, try try again.
Here's the thing about the process that I looked up, it spoke about a solar print, which it is, but how is it a solar print? The method I was using was to use watered down acrylics, and place plants on the fabric. Typically sun printing (Cyanotype, which is the technical process) is done on fabric treated with light sensitive chemicals, or they use a light sensitive fabric dye, both of which are expensive and not the direction I want to go with 3-5 year olds. For these reasons I really wanted to figure out how to make this process work.
In my first attempt the plants shriveled away, I realized they needed moisture, so I went back to looking up various methods and read something about wetting the fabric first, and using a watered down fabric paint. That was the trick, and what I realized is that while these are sun prints, one of the ways the imprint of the plant or flower is being made is that as the sun dries the fabric, it is also drying out the flowers and plants and naturally they are trying to absorb what water they can get. The water available is the wet dye on the fabric, and there you have it, a sun print on fabric is made! From the suns heat and power and a plants ability to absorb water through plant cells, the image is left on the fabric.
So, now that I have explained my process of discovery, let's take a look at how the children explored this process.
We of course had to go out and gather the materials for our project.
The field next to the school had lots to chose from.
Our little gathers hard at work.
Heading back to the school to see what's next.
For this project I cut up a cotton blend sheet we had at the school. We were making bags, so each child had a piece of fabric that was folded in half at the bottom to make the sewing easier. They then took a spray bottle of water and wet the fabric.
After wetting the fabric they went to work painting the fabric with watered down Setacolor fabric paint. Some also used spray fabric paint that you can find at a craft store, the combination of both worked well.
After they painted their fabric they picked the leaves and flowers they wanted to add to their artwork, and pressed them into the fabric.
The children weighted down their objects with stones.
Some used a little more stones than others.
The fabric was left out in the sun for almost two hours (or till the fabric was dry).
While small groups worked with me doing their sun-prints, others were with my assistant adding food coloring to water and placing Queen Anne's Lace in their colored water. Both projects approached the study of plants absorbing water from different perspectives. It did not take long for the flowers to begin their transformation, but it was really the next day that the children saw how the flowers absorbed the water and with it the color they placed in their cups.
Back to our sun-print project. After the fabric was dry, the children went to check in on their project, and everyone succeeded in making a sun-print.
I love how you can see the details of the lily.
Even the Queen Anne's Lace project that I wasn't sure would work, turned out great.
Even the tiniest flowers worked for us!
The next step was to get out the sewing machine, and have the children finish their bags.
This little sewing machine was one of the best gifts given to the school by my mother. It is a travel sewing machine that has a bobbin, so it does a great and satisfactory base stitch, plus it is so easy to use, that the children love it!
We discovered it was a little hard for some of the children to work the petal sitting down, so standing was a better option.
This was a cute story, this little one put "Kitty Man" in her bag as soon as she finished sewing it. The sense of accomplishment and pride is evident in her twinkling eyes even though her smile is being hidden by Kitty Man's smile, he liked it too!
Showing off a completed bag. They managed to sew a draw string strap. This part was probably the trickiest because some of the children accidentally sewed over the ribbon, so some of the bags don't exactly draw shut, but it was all so impressive what they we able to accomplish.
Another cuddle finding a fine home.
I'll end the post with this picture. When I asked this little guy to freeze for a picture before running off with his bag, this is the pose and face he gave me, and then he was a blur running off to show his friends his bag; got to love the face, the bag, and the excitement he had to show the others.