How to make a maple leaf tote bag

Say goodbye to that boring bag and say hello to your gorgeous sun print tote featuring maple leaves. This DIY bag is inspired by the beautiful forests in Western Canada and makes for a fun Canada Day craft.

How to make a sun print tote bag

Make this maple leaf tote with a sun printing trick that doesn’t require any special solar paint or kit. This DIY bag is inspired by the beautiful forests of Western Canada and makes for a fun summer craft.

Level of difficulty: Easy peasy
Age range: 3+
Some set-up help is required, but it’s otherwise easy for little hands.
Safety first: No cutting or glueing, just avoid leaving paint on hands–wash on contact.
The takeaway: This is the perfect project to learn about sun printing. The best part is, it doesn’t require any special or expensive photo transfer paint. You can practise with paper first and start imagining all the possibilities.

You’ll Need
plain canvas tote
acrylic paints + brush (washable paints won’t work for this project)
painters’ tape
spray bottle with water
1 sheet of card stock
maples leaves (or any plant you can forage in the park)

Step 1
Insert your card stock into the bag so water and paint don’t bleed through to the other side.  Section off the part of the bag you want to paint with painters’ tape and spray it liberally with water. A wet painting surface is key for the sun to do it’s magic, dry paint won’t transform in the same way.

Step 2
Paint your working area—you can paint it solid or try an ombré effect with two tones like we did above. Tip: Use darker, more saturated colours for the best results (light colours won’t give you enough contrast). Since you’re working with a wet surface and wet paint, it will bleed through the tape, so just embrace it as part of the design. If you want a neater look, paint over the edges once it’s dry to clean it up.


Step 3
Place your leaves on the surface in any pattern—you could even do one big leaf! Press all the edges down and smooth them as best as you can. Place the tote in direct sun, like next to a big window or outside. Wait 2-3 hours or until the tote is dry (no peeking!).

Step 4
Peel off the leaves and remove the tape to reveal your design. How cool is that? Take your tote on a day trip or to the farmers’ market this summer–or gift it to a special friend.

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