How To Make Sun Print Cards

Preserve the Beauty of the Garden with Cyanotype Sun-Print Cards

There are many ways to collect beauty from the garden and preserve it but one of my favorites is to create greeting cards using a historic photographic method, cyanotype printing. I first used this method to create sun print napkins and was thrilled with the results. I was hooked on the possibilities of the interesting shapes in the garden that just needed to be immortalized. Using some of the leftover cyanotype solution from the project, I made a bunch of sun-print cards showcasing the various leaves in my garden

How to make sun prints
How to Make Sun Print Cards

To make sun print cards, follow the instructions over at the napkin tutorial, or on the instructions of the cyanotype kit to mix the chemicals. Then, use a small foam roller to make a rough rectangle on the cards. I like the edges uneven and natural looking, like torn paper.

Pick out a few interesting-shaped flat things from the garden, a park, or forest. Flat leaves with plenty of detail seem to work best. Those that are rounded will leave shadows and not give a crisp sun print.Making sun prints

Arrange the leaves on prepared cards once the solution has dried. Note: be sure to allow the solution to dry completely in the dark as per the package instructions as any light will begin the exposure process. Place a piece of glass over cards and leaves and set it out in direct sun for 20 minutes undisturbed.

You can also buy sun print paper if you don’t want to deal with applying the chemicals. That’s on my list to try next.

When the exposure time is up, run the print under water until it starts to develop.

The instructions say wash for 5 minutes but I found this lightened too much of the print. I also tried floating the whole card in a tub of water and didn’t like these results that were, again, too washed out. There was a warning in the instructions that if you don’t wash the chemicals off well enough, your print will continue to expose. I did these cards a few weeks ago and they are still just perfect, so I suppose I found the right balance. My experimentation led me to feel satisfied with the running water system.

Cyanotype sun printing
You don’t need to wash them until the unexposed area under the leaf is completely white, which will happen as it finishes developing and dries. Set out to dry until damp, then press between sheets of parchment in a phone book so that the card flattens out again.Botanical sun prints

I did a bunch of different types of organic materials I found in the garden, but the most successful were flat leaves or flowers. I did some poppy seed heads that cast a shadow and made the print look distorted. I’m sure you will have plenty to choose from as I did, as nature is abundant.

If you love crafting with plants as much as I do, here are some other projects you might enjoy as well:

About the Author : Stephanie RoseAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Sheila @sZinteriors
    Sheila @sZinteriorsOctober 2,12

    Your cards are incredible! In the end which part did you find the most time consuming? Love these, and would so frame them :-)

    • Stevie
      StevieOctober 2,12

      Hi Shelia, thanks! They weren’t that time consuming, although to make it even easier you could buy paper already treated (link above). On the other hand, the napkins that I did were very time consuming. The results were worth it though.

  2. Joanna
    JoannaJune 17,15

    These are lovely! What kind of paper did you use?

  3. Stephanie
    StephanieJune 17,15

    Hi Joanna, just plain old cardstock. Thanks for the note!

  4. Lisa
    LisaFebruary 10,16

    Hi Stephanie! I absolutely love these. This will be my first attempt making sun prints. I’ve notice that your prints look almost black. I’ve done tons of research (I’ve only seen a blue color) and maybe you can direct me in the right way in how to make my print color look like yours! I’d greatly appreciate it to make a few gifts for my family. Thank you!

  5. Vanessa
    VanessaJuly 31,16

    Wow, this is a great project and I love how easy it is to make. I’m so happy I found your lovely blog

  6. Elaine Nicholls
    Elaine NichollsAugust 1,16

    Hi! I also use gardening for therapy and also art and craft. I love these cards- such a great idea. They are so inspiring and beautiful.
    Kind Regards
    Elaine Nicholls

  7. Emily
    EmilyAugust 2,16

    I’ve never heard of cyanotype kits, but I definitely want to check these out! These prints are so neat! Thanks for sharing with our Merry Monday party this week.

  8. Heidi
    HeidiAugust 4,16

    These are so cool! Definitely doing this wit the kids!

  9. Cindy Magee
    Cindy MageeAugust 7,16

    Amazing! I love this idea and my wheels are turning. I would love to trry this with all sorts of things like cutouts of paper etc.

  10. BonBon
    BonBonAugust 7,16

    I love these card. thanks so much for sharing with us at Inspire Me Monday. Also I wanted to let you know that You are one of my featured picks this week. I hope you come and check it out at

  11. Pam
    PamAugust 8,16

    These are absolutely amazing. I love to make cards and have never seen this technique. I will definitely try it! Thanks for sharing at #HomeMattersParty!

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