If you’re like me and the sun is an ever-present enemy waiting to make you hot and sticky, this is your chance to turn it into your best frenemy, who still does those things but also helps you make some sweet art! I’m going to show you two methods of making art prints on fabric using the power of UV rays. There’s something rewarding about making a long-lasting print on something as strong as fabric in our chaotic and disorganized world of digital photos stored on ~The Cloud~. Now let’s use the CLOUDS in the sky to make some art! (Is it too late now to say sooorry for that joke?)

What you’ll need:


  • Sun-reactive dye. (Jacquard makes one with a lot of color options.)
  • 100 percent cotton or linen fabric
  • Flowers/stencils/shapes or photo negatives printed on transparency paper
  • A paint brush
  • Tape
  • Cardboard

How to solar-print with a photo negative:

Step One

Take the photo you want to print with and make it black and white, then invert the colors to make a negative. Here is a helpful guide, or Jacquard has a website that will help you make them, too.

Step Two

Now we’re going to print the negative on transparency paper. You can buy your own transparency paper and print the negative on it yourself; however, unless you plan on making a large number of prints, it is much cheaper to take your negative to a printing center and have them print copies for you. You may want to call ahead and ask if they are able to print photos on transparency paper. Each negative should run you about a dollar or less each.

Step Three


Put your fabric on a piece of cardboard and paint on your sun-reactive dye. Make sure you do this inside, away from direct sunlight.

Step Four


Line up your negative and tape it over the fabric.

Step Five


Take everything outside and leave it in the sun for however long it says on the bottle of dye you used—about 10 to 24 minutes, depending on the weather and color. The dye will change color before your very eyes.

Step Six


Once the exposure time is up, bring your art back inside and take the negative off. Your photo will now be on the fabric!

Step Seven


Take the print and wash it in warm water with laundry detergent, until the water runs clear. This is super important because if you don’t rinse, your print will continue to expose and eventually disappear!

Step Eight


Let your print dry, and you’re done!

How to solar-print with stencils:

Follow the same steps but instead of using a negative, use whatever stencils or opaque objects your heart desires!


For this print I used cutouts, star confetti, and flowers to create a desert scene.


It was windy, so I used glass to hold everything in place.


Hang up your prints, say thank you to the sun, and treasure your new fibrous masterpiece!

Tips: When you’re using stencils or objects, experiment with different opacities: Some flower petals, for example, are see-through and will let light through and make different looks than thick leaves or plastics will. Mix colors if you have more than one dye, or try customizing colors or doing a gradient. Don’t be limited by rectangle canvasses—fabric can be cut into any shape. Try a pennant, heart, or even a T-shirt!