Sucked Deeper Into The Printing Vortex

As I’ve shared with you before, I like to print designs on fabric. My latest foray was improvisational screen printing using freezer paper, newspaper, and soy wax. I took a day long class from Sandy Shelenberger with other members of an art quilt group.

We had four yards of cotton fabric to play with, lots of Procion MX dyes and dye thickener, screens, bondo filler spreaders, and various oddments to use for texture. Each student took off in a different direction, so the versatility of the techniques was on full display.

Where are the photos of all that wonderful work? Ahem, I was busy creating and my hands were usually encased in plastic gloves and dye, so I neglected to take pictures. I can show only what I created.

The technique is simple – you mask part of the silk screen with paper/wax/tape and then scrape (this is where the bondo spreader comes in) thickened dye across the screen onto fabric beneath the screen. Freezer paper cut into patterns can be ironed onto the screens and used for several prints. Newspaper can be torn into strips, placed over the cloth, and covered with the screen, which is then scraped with dye. Once the newspaper is covered with dye you can use it to stamp directly on your fabric. Soy wax is melted with an electric skillet or griddle (devoted entirely to non food uses), then painted on the screen. When it dries it resists the dye and makes the pattern. The wax can be washed off the screen with hot water and soap.

Here’s some of the cloth I printed. I view it as work in progress and hope to add further print layers with inks, paints, etc.

soy-wax-3I created a soy wax pattern on a screen and printed it with blue (above) and yellow green (below.) I also swirled a large toothed plastic comb through the green print.

soy-wax-1I cut out a freezer paper pattern and ironed it to the screen. The red was added with a paint brush.

screen-printing-freezer-paperI combined an old silk screen design with a newspaper overlay (2 steps) in the piece below.

silk-screen-newspaperThe dark purple/brown color in some of my prints began as black cherry. Once I messed with it I named the color prune.

The same techniques can be used with paints, printing inks, etc. The dyes give wonderful colors but they are messy.




Filed under dyeing, Fabric Printing, In Process, Techniques

17 responses to “Sucked Deeper Into The Printing Vortex

  1. Doreen

    I love the prune print. If it were me, I would add some thread painting and beads.

  2. Great way to play. I especially like the two-step piece at the bottom. It looks like the beginning of a complete piece, rather than simply fabric to use elsewhere.

    I’m trying to start a new quilt but I am struggling with what to do. ??!!!???

    • As you well know, you can’t force a quilt into being. Why not try some play to see if that sparks any ideas? A color you’ve always wanted to work with, a pattern you’ve thought of altering in some way, an old project you can cut up and recombine. How about a black quilt?

      And yes, you’re never too old to paint on paper or fabric. I see more layers on most of the pieces I did. The first time I try a technique I know better than to expect good looking results. The fabric may end up as a swan after I add (or subtract) shapes and color, but I won’t pretend they look splendid right now.

      • Black quilt is very tempting. Also I made 3 tiny blocks in my starting attempt, which won’t work after all, but they made me think of making something called “Into The Woods With Clowns.” Truly, black and anger and irony won’t work for me right now, so both those will wait (but are not X-ed off the list.) I pulled a bunch of fabrics in chalky pastels and am trying to build some star blocks. The 3″ pieces made so far (including the clowny ones that won’t work) are for the star centers. It will be a medallion but I only have concept for a middle border. ???? No idea what the center will be. That’s a different way to start a medallion. Part of why the struggle.

      • “Into The Woods With Clowns” reminds me of the lyrics to that song “Stuck In the Middle Again.” Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right…. I assume you’re talking scary clowns. And why shouldn’t you make an inside out medallion?

      • No reason not to make an inside out medallion. I just don’t, normally. Usually I start large, in the center, and then have context to work with. Starting with a mid-border means creating context with lots of small pieces. It’s a little harder for me. HA. Just another opportunity to stretch, I guess…

        And yeah, scary clowns. If you’d rather go into the woods with scary clowns than see what happens next …

  3. That looks and sounds like it must have been a fun day of exploration! I hope to see more of your adventures in surface design and maybe what you do with some of these neat pieces (that is if you are able to or even want to cut into them!)

  4. I love the sense of movement you created with those curving lines and then turning the motif.

  5. This looks like fun–messy and sloppy and fun!

  6. Judith K Campbell

    The other caveat with dyes is that, when washed in the final step, the color is a LOT lighter and often very different from what you expected. One of mine, which was a bewitching shade of medium brown with golden olive hues morphed into baby poop yellow. I see a lot of layering in its future!

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