It’s summertime and the garage fabric painting and dyeing studio is now open. A friend succumbed to a display of Jacquard’s new SolarFast sun printing dye product and I benefited from her purchase. There’s lots of information about this product on Jacquard’s website and the blog And Then We Set It On Fire, plus videos on YouTube.
Using violet, teal, and scarlet colors and recycled bits of fabric (previous dyeing failures and stained light colored fabric,) we experimented.
The keys to success with this product are having everything flat on the fabric (a piece of glass or plexiglass on top is helpful) and removing the resists in the shade. We lost some definition on a few pieces because we were so eager to see the results we removed the materials in the sun. In less than a minute the newly exposed fabric got darker.
My friend got lovely effects with plant material, especially leaves. Blossoms shriveled too quickly in the hot sun to make a clear pattern. She also used little bits of stamped metal shapes which left a sharp imprint.
Is this product worth it? It depends on what’s important to you.
It’s premixed, easy to clean up after, and can be diluted up to 1 to 1 with water. We diluted it with about half part water to one part SolarFast. The resulting colors were pleasant, but not intense.
While the colors can be combined, it’s impossible to see the effect before sun exposure as the product is a murky, chalky color out of the bottle. Other paints such as Setacolor can be more accurately mixed. The colors don’t blend well on fabric but remain distinct.
It seems designed to work especially well with photo negatives. This is demoed on the above YouTube link. You can get sharper detail than with other sun printing methods. However, Jacquard wants you to use their special transparent sheets for this.
It’s much less messy and works faster than other methods. We exposed our fabric for about an hour due to a doughnut break, but the instructions said the desired effect could print in as little as 15 minutes, varying with color used. Depending on time of year, that could be an advantage. It could also be used by children who are old enough to follow directions. No masks are needed though the product contains ammonia.
It leaves fabric with a soft hand and no stiffness.
It’s expensive compared with other paints that do the same job, and I don’t think it can be used for anything else except sun printing. However, the videos show some great t-shirts made with it, so it may be the best product for sun printing photos.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with this product or any sun printing you’ve done. I need to go back to my other paints and try sun printing with them so I can do some comparisons.