Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cyanotypes / Sunprinting in Africa

I'm baaaccckkk!

And, while I missed this place -and all technology really- while in Africa, I must say I'd give it all up to back in Kenya. I fell in love with a country, a people and a place.

There is so much to say and so much to write. I'm already in the process of gathering notes and details to share with you.

But, in the meantime, I thought you might enjoy watching this little video wherein kiddos in Lodwar, Kenya (one of the top ten most remote places on the planet) learn how to make cyanotypes/sunprints.

They speak a mix of Turkana and Swahili with a spot of the Queen's English and I speak American English. . . So, we didn't do too much language communication which taught me a lot about teaching (that I will share with you later).



  1. Hi! I am an art teacher in TX and have been reading your blog for several weeks now and enjoy it immensely. This post/video is awesome...thanks for sharing! I am actually traveling to Africa (Uganda) in March and am hoping to do some art lessons at an orphanage we are visiting. Can you share the step by step process you followed for these prints?

    I really appreciate it and can't wait to hear more about your trip!

    ~Michelle K

  2. Michelle, I'm sure you're going to love your trip! For this process I used cyanotype/sunprint paper that I purchased from an art supply catalog. You can find it here:

    I demonstrated by laying sticks and rocks on the paper for 2-5 minutes. Then I rinsed the paper in available water (I brought my own as from the lodge I was staying at, it wasn't drink safe though). After rinsing, we laid them in the sun to dry and we were finished. The rinsing process goes much faster if you add hydrogen peroxide (the oxygen helps it change faster) but I didn't want to bring that through customs and didn't get a chance to buy it in Nairobi, so we had to use just plain water. It worked fine.

    I had enough so each child could do at least two. I found that no matter my craft project, that having enough to make two was best. Since language was a barrier, the students could attempt with the first go, and problem-solve with the second.

    They loved it.

    I discovered simple works best, by-the-way. Balloons and making yarn-balls for dodge ball was just as popular -if not more so- than the cyanotypes and scratch paper!

  3. Welcome back, Amy. I was thinking of you yesterday with all the snowy weather in the south and airline troubles. So glad to hear you are back safely. Look forward to seeing more about your experiences in Africa! Are you back to work yet, or do you have any time to relax and adjust to time differences?

  4. Thanks for sharing this Amy. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your trip to Africa!