Solar-Powered Prints – Lesson Plan

(♪♪♪) Have you ever heard of
a cyanotype before? It’s a photographic print
that’s made by exposing UV light to a coated,
photosensitive paper. It changes the chemical
structure of the paper, only where
the light reaches it. When placed in water,
the UV-altered areas remain permanently fixed, and deep blue
in colour, while the unaltered chemicals
on the surface wash away to expose
the white paper. Well today
I’m going to show you how to make very
simple cyanotypes. using two safe and familiar
classroom favorites: Nature Print Paper,
and scratch art. This is Scratch Art
Clear Scratch Film. Now unlike traditional
scratch art materials, the black matte coating
is not applied to paper, it’s applied to
a clear glossy plastic. You can’t tell that
it’s plastic really until you start
scratching into it. To prepare I’ve cut
the scratch art film in half, so that it fits onto
the Nature Print paper. I also have prepared
a pan of water, and have it
handy and waiting. It needs to be sized
to fit the paper with about half of an inch of
cool water in it. Most importantly
you need to keep the Nature Print paper indoors and sealed in its package
until it’s ready to use. To begin with,
make a light sketch onto your
clear scratch film, which I’ve
already done here. Using a wooden stylus,
scratch away at the matte black side of
the clear scratch film. There are metal
styluses available, but those really don’t
work well with this product because they etch
into the plastic. You don’t need to be concerned
with drawing in reverse, however you need to consider
working in the negative. What you see as white, as I’m scratching
away from it here now, is actually going to end up
being a dark blue area. Best designs use
a lot of white open areas, and no so much black. Now I’m going to
set this aside and bring out one that
I’ve already completed, the same drawing
with all of the areas scratched away. Now it’s time to
make the print, so let’s take our Nature Print
paper out of the package. It’s sealed so that it won’t
get any light directed to it until you’re ready to use it. Pull out a piece of paper
and set it blue side up on a rigid surface, such as this piece
of cardboard. Then, take your
scratch art drawing and lay it over the top
like so. Finally, you’ll need
a piece of glass, or in this case I’m using a clear plastic
Styrene sheet, and placing it
over the top. Now put it in bright,
direct sunlight for about two minutes. Now if you want to do
this project on a cloudy day or in early morning
or evening hours, your prints are probably
going to turn out lighter than the ones that
I’m going to make today, because I’ve got beautiful
sunshine out there, so excuse me for
a couple minutes while I head outdoors
to make my print. Okay, I’m back. And you can see how my
print has begun to expose. I’m going to put it
into the pan of cool water. And you’re going to
leave it in there for about two minutes, but immediately can see
what’s starting to happen here. The areas that
you see as white are where
the unaltered chemicals on the paper
are now washing away, and the areas
that are turning darker, those are the areas that have
been effected by the sunlight, and they’ll continue to darken
in colour and turn blue. Once you’ve left it
in there for two minutes, set it aside on some
paper towels to dry. I’m just going to
set this aside for now, and I’m going to show you
a piece that’s already dry and exposed. Now Nature Print Paper
itself is pretty lightweight, so I do recommend mounting it
onto a piece of card stock, or poster board
with a little glue, just to give it
a little bit of strength. Allow the glue to dry, and you can either
leave it blue, like this, or if you’d like to add
a little bit of colour, I recommend using
a colour pencil such as this
Blick Colour Pencil, Studio Colour Pencil, and colour in right
on top of the areas, right on top of the print. Another way you can
colour it is by using watercolour washes. Now the blue is permanent. Adding water over the top is
not going to cause it to bleed at all, so the snake was printed
with a little bit of watercolour over the top. Now I can take
and go back out in the sun and make print
after print after print with this
clear scratch drawing, but when I’m done printing, I’m not necessarily
finished with it. If I turn it over
to the smooth side, the glossy side, as I’ve done with
this piece right here, I can use a permanent marker, such as this Blick Studio
Permanent Marker, and colour those
white areas to turn it into a piece of
stained glass art, which I can then hang
in the window and display as
a stained glass piece, so really, it’s two
projects in one, so if you want to know
how to get these materials, and see the
step by step instructions, visit And if you’re a teacher who’s putting together
lesson plans, we do list the National Standards for
Visual Arts Education there. Help you out a little bit
with your paperwork. So head on out into
the sunshine folks, and while you’re at it, make some
solar-powered prints. (♪♪♪) Captioned by GigEcast


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