DIY Suncatchers!

Happy weekend from Josephine Sculpture Park! During our temporary suspension of public programs due to COVID-19, we will provide you virtual programs, activities, and resources to help you and your family stay creative and connected with yourselves, each other and nature through art! If you are well and able, we do invite you to visit the Park or other open natural area to enjoy the health benefits that nature provides. As a reminder, please practice social distancing while enjoying the park. (Read JSP’s Official COVID-19 Response here.) Now, let’s make some suncatchers!

Suncatchers are a great project for any age and can be made from natural found objects and materials you are likely to already have at home. This project is also a great way to observe the diversity of plants in your region and to get up close and personal with the incredible, beautiful details that each individual plant part provides. When your suncatcher is complete, you can hang this up in a main window at your home as a reminder to get outside and soak up that sunshine!

 

Step 1: Gather your supplies! 

  • Cloth bag or basket (for nature walk)
  • Paper frame (construction paper or paper plate with center cut out to make a frame; or old photo frame matt; Note: can be as large or small as you wish)
  • Clear tape or clear adhesive shelf liner
  • Natural materials of various colors and shapes (it’s important that these are generally flat)
  • Scissors
  • (Optional) X-ACTO knife
  • (Optional) Hole punch
  • (Optional) Yarn/String
  • (Optional) Masking tape
  • (Optional) Markers

 

Step 2: Go on a nature walk!  

The items I gathered during my nature walk include a variety of fallen and harvested plant parts. I only harvested plants that occurred in abundance, and only harvested what I needed.

Head outside with your cloth bag or basket and meander about, letting the beautiful little natural things you find lead you! (If you are walking with children, invite them to lead.) The items that you gather on your nature walk will serve as the colorful “stained glass” in your suncatcher frame. You may already have an idea of how you want your suncatcher design to look, or you may want the materials you find inform your design – any way is great. There are a few things to keep in mind as you gather natural materials:

  • Gather items of a variety of colors, shapes and textures. Notice the marvelous diversity of detail in nature! Items that are flat-ish will work best for your suncatcher. You will also want to keep in mind the size of your frame, and to not overwhelm yourself with the size and number of gathered items.
  • Gather items that won’t bother people and won’t harm the environment. Items that follow this rule are fallen leaves, fallen flowers, and other fallen plant materials that are not in someone’s yard.
  • If you do pick flowers or leaves, only pick a few petals/leaves and only from those plants that exist in abundance in that location. This ensures that you are not picking a rare plant or harming the plant, and that you leave plenty for others to enjoy. Consider thanking the plant for its beauty!
  • Only visit a neighbor’s property if you have their permission. If you are in a public natural area, check to see if they have a statement about whether gathering is permitted.

For those of you who are new to nature walks with kiddos, check out this great blog by Fireflies + Mud Pies about nature walk tips and activities.

 

Step 3: Create your suncatcher!  

  • Use clear tape or clear adhesive shelf liner to cover the inside of your suncatcher frame. One side of your suncatcher is now sticky!

I used a photo frame matt as my frame, and clear packing tape as my adhesive.

  • Arrange your natural items how you wish on the sticky side of your suncatcher.  Really take the time to look at the variety of details (color, shape, texture, etc.) that each part of the item presents. Don’t be afraid to break smaller pieces off the item you gathered, or cut them into different shapes, to make your artwork into something entirely new – ART! (You may wish to make this into a more intentional mindfulness activity by designing a mandala in your suncatcher. If so, check out this great article about nature mandalas and mindfulness in Hobby Farms by Frankfort’s own Rachel Dupree!)

I had never noticed how detailed the flower is on purple deadnettle until I made my suncatcher!

  • Use clear tape or clear adhesive shelf liner to cover the “other” side of your suncatcher frame, locking the natural items in place.
  • (Optional) You may wish to “finish off” the inner edge of your frame, where the clear tape or adhesive shelf liner edge appears. You can easily do so by adding masking tape along the inner edge of the frame. Then, you can use markers to decorate your masking tape frame, and the paper frame, as you wish!

I used green masking tape to cover the clear tape edges, making a clean inner frame.

  • (Optional) You may wish to hang your suncatcher, instead of taping it to a window. If so, use a hole punch or scissors to poke a hole in the “top” of your suncatcher (the “top” is wherever you choose). Be sure to punch the hole at least ¼” from the edge of your frame. Then, use yarn or other material to make a loop through your punched hole. The length of your loop will depend on where you want to hang your suncatcher.

 

Step 4: Catch the sun!  

Whether you hang your suncatcher from yarn, or you tape it to your window, be sure to place your suncatcher in an indoor location that the sunlight will reach during the day. Notice your suncatcher throughout the day, and how the shifting light changes the colors and experience of your art. You will also notice how your suncatcher changes over time, as the natural items age.

Your suncatcher can also serve as a reminder to get outside and soak up that sunshine, especially while we experience the unique challenges of COVID-19. Sunlight can be key to helping us through this strange time of isolation, social distancing, and other challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The sun’s UV rays help your body make Vitamin D, which is important for your bones, blood cells, and immune system. Sunlight also helps boost serotonin, a chemical in your brain that can increase energy, and help keep you calm and positive. (Remember to wear skin protection and sunglasses.)

 

 

Step 5: Connect with the JSP Community! 

Share pictures of your suncatcher process on social media and tag Josephine Sculpture Park! You can also send us a message on Facebook or Instagram if you have any questions or hangups during your process. Let’s share the joy of art in nature!

 

If you appreciate this activity and other resources that we share, please consider donating online to Josephine Sculpture Park. (This guided activity at the Park would cost $5 per participant.) Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and our website for updates and unique fun! THANK YOU!

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