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There’s no question that art can really make a space. It finishes off the room in a way that just feels unique, personal and, well, finished. But by the time you’ve renovated, painted, and furnished a room, you may be out of money.

Don’t let a lack of funds stop you! Roll up those sleeves and make some fun, stylish and affordable art yourself. Here’s one art project I thought up recently: cyanotype look-a-likes!

Sometimes called “sun prints,” cyanotypes are an early form of photography where light-sensitive paper layered with objects (often plants) is exposed to the sun to create blue and white silhouettes.

Photo Blog September 13 DIY Cyanotype Art Steven Gambrel

You’ve probably seen a whole gallery of cyanotypes, like in this hallway by designer Steven Gambrel.

Photo Blog September 13 DIY Cyanotype Art Martha Stewart Apartment Therapy

Or even used with fabric, like this Martha Stewart craft that I came across on Apartment Therapy.

Well, I tried my hand at making some myself this past weekend, but not with light-sensitive paper — with spray paint!

Photo Blog September 13 DIY Cyanotype Art Leaves

1. It starts with a bunch of leaves, some tropical, some from the garden.

Photo Blog September 13 DIY Cyanotype Art Tools

2. Next, grab yourself some blue spray paint. The shade of blue is important. I found this one at The Home Depot and it was the perfect cyanotype blue. (The brand name is Painter’s Touch, and I chose Wildflower Blue.) I also picked up some grey spray paint as you can see, but decided on blue in the end. What can I say? I love colour! I also used some tape to hold stubborn leaves in place, and a water bottle to mist the paint and get a spotty effect. I didn’t really need it in the end, but feel free to experiment.

Photo Blog September 13 DIY Cyanotype Art Board

3. Lay your plant material out on a sheet of white bristol board (shiny side down). I found that adding little bits of debris (seed pods, bits of mulch, tiny stones) adds a nice dimension to the final project. This look is anything but crisp and pristine. Imperfection is what you want. Phew! That takes the pressure off, doesn’t it?!

Photo Blog September 13 DIY Cyanotype Art Paint

4. Shake up your spray paint and get at it! Use light sweeping mists, not heavy downpours, okay? It doesn’t have to be completely even, but you don’t want it to look like graffiti. Plan to mow your lawn afterwards because it will look like a Smurf melted!

Photo Blog September 13 DIY Cyanotype Art

Here are some of my experiments. I love how they look en masse. See how they look misty and vapour-like? That’s what you want. If there’s a section that looks too crisp and stands out, you can hold the spray paint about 12” away and do another light mist to blend it all together.

Photo Blog September 13 DIY Cyanotype Art Ikea Frames

5. Next, grab some Ribba frames from Ikea (a personal favourite!). Be sure to pick up a variety of sizes for a more stylish gallery. Or you could go uniform and create a whole grid on the wall.

Photo Blog September 13 DIY Cyanotype Art After

Et voila! Easy, DIY cyanotype look-a-likes to finish off your space. I displayed a whole collection up along a crisp white mantelpiece (below). For a less beachy and more edgy look, why not use grey paint and put your own spin on this fun and simple project? Good luck with the projects! (And good luck getting the spray paint off your hands!)

Photo Blog September 13 DIY Cyanotype Art Fireplace Mantel

Get more DIY ideas in our DIY section. Plus, we’ve got lots of weekend project ideas on our Online TV show. Just click “By Topic” and choose DIY.

Photo credits:
1. Country, Hamptons, S. R. Gambrel
2. Apartment Therapy
3-10. Michael Penney

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