Craft Fun in the Summer Sun: Acrylic Sun Prints

KidsCraft1Hi Everyone! After our recent post highlighting the effects of praise on children, we thought it would be neat to share an activity that would be both fun for families and an opportunity for parents to practice effort based, non-evaluative praise :-). The acrylic based sun prints we are sharing here are both these things!

I originally found this craft on the Craftiments blog. When I saw it I knew my girls would enjoy this because it combined their love for collecting nature items with their affection for being outside in the summer sunshine. I shared the craft with my sister and she decided to try it with her own children. Her family chose to make sports themed sun prints and she provides their variation of the craft below as well.

Supplies needed:

  • White 100% cotton fabric (Note: You can purchase this at a craft store, or you can cut up a worn out t-shirt you have at home)
  • Measuring stick
  • Fabric pen
  • Acrylic craft paints (darker colors work best)
  • Paint brushes
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • A tarp or plastic bag
  • Any item that lays flat, i.e. nature items (flowers, rocks, leaves), cut-outs, foam shapes, etc.


  1. Gather all the supplies listed above
  2. Use your measuring stick and pen to outline a large square on the cotton fabric (Mine measured 11×14)
  3. Cut out the square along the lines drawn on the fabric
  4. Lay out a tarp or plastic trash bag to protect your driveway or patio
  5. Select the paint colors you will use and thin them about 1:1 with water
  6. Completely wet your fabric
  7. Squeeze it out just enough so it remains very damp, but no longer drips
  8. Lay your wet fabric flat on the tarp or plastic bag
  9. Let the painting begincraft3craft6
  10. Immediately after painting, press your items on the fabric gently. Press the edges as flat as possible to get a sharp image of your item.
  11. Let the fabric dry completely in direct sunlight (ours took 4 hours to dry)
  12. Once dry, begin the fun part, the peel and reveal of the itemscraft8craft7
  13. Heat set the paint by putting your dried prints in the dryer at high temperature for 45 minutes
  14. Now you can wash them if you desire to soften them up
  15. Display them however you choose

craft15Sports-Themed Variation of the craft: For the version of the craft my children did, the only thing that differs from the above is instead of pressing nature items into the wet fabric, we prepared letters that spelled the names of their favorite football teams and used those instead. We used stencils to trace the letters onto black light-weight poster board and then carefully cut them out. We placed light-weight wood star shapes that we purchased at the craft store on our prints as well. One thing to note is that you can buy pre-made wood letters pretty inexpensively at the craft store and use those in place of the poster board letters. It will save you the effort of cutting out the letters, but add a bit of additional expense.craft12 A few things to keep in mind:

  • Try to avoid doing this on a windy day as the items may blow away
  • If the paint begins to dry before you put the items on, use your spray bottle to mist the fabriccraft9

If you would like to be prepared when questions on how this works begin, here is a brief summary of the process. The water rapidly evaporates from the surface of the fabric that is exposed to the sunlight. The areas that have been covered by leaves, flowers, poster board letters, etc. are protected from evaporation, so it is wetter under the items than it is on the exposed fabric. This causes the water to slowly spread from under the covered fabric to the drier exposed fabric. When this happens, the paint pigments under the items are pulled out along with the water.  craft10craft14


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