by Grace Bonney

last year i did a sunprint diy video after falling madly in love with the sunprint fabric you can buy online. so i was excited to hear from d*s reader claire kramer about a new collection from studio glithero in london that uses sunprint techniques.

working in dark rooms, the studio glithero team created tiles and vases that were treated with light sensitive chemicals. after strapping flowers the surface of each object and exposing them to the light, the glithero designers created beautiful sunprint pieces that finish to be a bright prussian blue. i think the tiles are especially gorgeous and would love to learn how (anyone know?) to treat tiles to create a similar look. they would be so beautiful used in a bathroom or as a kitchen backsplash. click here to check out the full series from studio glithero. thanks, claire! [photos by petr krejci]

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  • I bet you could accomplish a slightly cheaper-looking, but still very beautiful, imitation with white wares, assorted plants, and spraypaint. Probably would take a little practice to get right but I bet it could look beautiful!

  • It would be easy to use contact paper cut out into floral shapes (there are tons of free images and photoshop brushes online) as a mask. Put the shapes on white tiles or vases, paint blue, remove contact paper.

  • The process is called cyanotype, and it’s one of the earliest photographic processes. You can buy the chemicals and coat just about anything with a tooth: wood, fabric, stone. The trick is to keep it from washing off. Google “cyanotype”, and you can find photo supply companies for them chemicals. Also, those chemicals are highly toxic (containing, surprise, cyanide), so wear gloves in a well ventilated space. And you don’t need a proper darkroom, just a room with very low light (I use Christmas lights in the bathroom)

  • Oh, and also, when you’re washing the finished print, you can add hydrogen peroxide to the rinse to make it turn darker faster (something that would happen eventually, but if you’re an instant gratification kind of person…)

  • I looove the sunprints on the vases. Adorable! Sunprinting in general, though, doesn’t do it for me. I saw it done over and over in MSL and they always struck me as plant x-rays.

    But kudos to the vases (maybe it’s the smaller scale of the prints that makes them work?)

  • I did a quick search and it seems there are chemicals that you paint on anything to achieve this effect on tile and or vases….

  • One of my favorite artists, Casey Roberts, uses this same photo-sensitive chemical process to make fantastic paintings. You can see his work at wildernessoverload.com. Through the gallery I manage in Louisville, KY we’ll be showing his work with cyanotype and holding a workshop too – July 23 + 24. More info at the930.org

  • I took an imaging on fabric class at Mass Art one fall and we messed around with this process for a few classes. It’s called cyanotype and as long as you can get your hands on the right chemicals it’s pretty easy to do at home with summer sunlight. Imaging on tiles might change the chemical makeup you need just slightly but I did some quick research and I think there’s been a few things about it floating around the internet.

    Just make sure you have a good size piece of glass to put over the tiles when you have the flowers/ferns resting on them.

    I’m not sure if you can do this with tile, but I ended up bleaching out the blue when I did the flowers/ferns on fabric and re-dyed with a strong tea bath and I really loved how it came out!

  • I’m guessing you coat the tiles with emulsion while they are still unglazed, but fired, ceramic and then once you’ve exposed and developed them you can clear glaze them and fire them so that they have a protective coating. You can have your tiles fired at one of those places where you paint a cheesy sculpture and then they fire it for you, you just have to talk to them about it. The tricky part I think is finding raw ceramic tiles, without making them yourself, unless you have a slab roller and some skill with ceramics.

  • In college I tried (in vain) to sunprint on ceramic. None of the ceramics or photo professors could help. I’m glad someone figured it out!

  • Im guessing this wouldn’t be suitable for dinnerware with the toxicity level of the chemicals involved…?? Would it be necessary or possible to clear glaze over the finished print?