Spring Sun Catchers

There is something so pretty about the way the sun shines through a colour. This time of year I am especially appreciating it as the leaves are just emerging, and when the light passes through those amazing chlorophyll-filled cells they seem to glow like little green torches throughout the forest.

So, to celebrate that beauty we made some spring sun catchers, also known as luminaries or window transparencies. In the spring I love visiting our neighbours pond with my daughter, and I love the return of the warblers so I made sun catchers of those things. Of course, I had to make a Blackburnian Warbler. I also made a Black-throated Blue Warbler. For my daughter, I made some basic bird shapes. After making her basic birds, she wanted to design her own, so she made a dragon.

We created our frames on black cardstock, cutting them out with a mix of scissors and an exacto knife on a self-healing cutting mat. For the colour we used tissue paper, but you could also use kite paper, coloured cellophane, or a combination of those things. When you cut the tissue paper you need to leave enough to overlap onto the black frame or onto an adjacent colour a bit. We used a glue stick on the cardstock, and craft glue with a paint brush when we needed to put glue on the tissue paper directly. You have to work carefefully so as not to tear the tissue paper. If you want, you can back it with another frame. Hang it using some dental floss or use some clear tape to tape it up and enjoy the way the light shines through the colours. As bonus, these window transparencies and other window art helps birds to avoid window collisions.

Disclaimer: This is a fairly advanced craft because of the cutting and xacto knife work, and also because tissue paper is delicate and can ripe easily. If your child isn’t ready for knife work you could prepare the frames for them and/or see what can be done with scissors alone. Your child should already know how to use a kitchen knife safely before doing paper and xacto knife work. If your child and you feel they are ready, they should understand that the knife is very sharp and is a tool not a toy. They should be sitting in a stable position at a clean table with the paper on a self-healing cutting mat. They should have their own clear space and be aware of their surroundings (especially other people). They should know how to put on and remove the safety cap, how to grab, pass and hold it safely, how to hold the paper steady, and how to make sure their fingers are out of the way. They should know to keep the safety cap on when they aren’t using it. Depending on their ability, they should be directly supervised. They need to be responsible enough and you have to trust them. All that being said, we want our children to respect and understand tools and tool safety, and to be able to enjoy using them safely, not to be scared of them.

You can make your own frames out of black cardstock. It may help younger children to draw their design with a thick marker first so that it forces them to draw large enough to widen the lines. Or you can print out our sun catcher frames onto white cardstock and cut/knife out the frames: Spring Sun Catcher Frames & Dragon Sun Catcher Frame. They are also in the shop as a free download.

We were on a roll so we also made a couple of sun catcher mandalas.

Magna Tiles are another way to enjoy light through colour (these were a good investment and get used a lot):

Here are supplies we used:

If you live in the Hull area, you can check out the public art installation called ‘Papa’ by Hal Ingberg, a Montréal artist. Here is a short video about it:

Thanks for visiting and enjoy the beautiful spring sun shining through the colours⎼sometimes it is these simple things like sunlight through colour that can bring beauty and joy into our lives, Kate