Category Archives: Fabric Printing

Light As A Feather?

One of my art quilt groups is fond of challenges. The latest was to make something to do with the word feather. My immediate thought was, no birds. After a string of free association – feathering oar strokes, the feather embroidery stitch, Featherweight, feather in one’s cap, etc. – I settled on feathering my nest. I guess that’s sort of birdlike, though I separated the feathers from the bird. I guess it ended up on the table for Thanksgiving.

Once I chose my theme I decided to make my feathers from a feather. First, I used Ranger ink spray to color sheets of that Pellon 830 I’m fond of. Then, I rolled fabric printing ink and paint on an actual feather, and made several impressions with it. The printed sheets were fused to Wonder Under.

Next came nest creation. I colored a sheet of dampened Pellon 830, this time with Derwent Inktense blocks. After I fused the sheet to Wonder Under, I sliced it up to make a nest.

As you can see, I had already layered and quilted my background (after much fabric choice trial and error.) The last, and most fun, step was to play around with feather placement.

Because the 830 doesn’t ravel, I did no more quilting. I finished the edges with a fused down binding, a la Frieda Anderson.

The other morning my husband told me he liked my “falling leaves.” After I told him they were feathers he replied, “They look like leaves to me.” After all that work printing with the feather!

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The Good and the Bad, With A Side of Ugly

I said I’d show the fabric I dyed at my Sue Benner workshop, but let me warn you my results aren’t swoon worthy. Painting with dye can be tricky. The reds will gallop ahead and take over any space they can. The turquoises will be shy and often show up very late. Spray bottles will be temperamental and drop blobs where you want a haze. Thickening the dye helps, but it can be difficult for a neophyte to gauge how thin or thick a line a squeeze bottle will draw. My point is often you won’t know what you’ll get until you wash and dry the fabric.

I’ll begin with fabrics that began as black painted or monoprinted on fabric. A second pass added color.

In the above I splodged on black from a squeeze bottle and dragged a comb through it. After it sat for a few hours I put a vinyl bathmat under the fabric and rollered on several colors of dye.

In this one I applied the black to the tile board with a paint brush, dragged a notched tool through it, and then used a wipe away tool to remove the black. I laid my fabric on top of the board and rollered over the cloth to take a print. Once the cloth was dry I painted thickened yellow and turquoise dye onto a sheet of vinyl and pressed the vinyl paint side down onto my fabric.

For this one I painted thickened black on my board with a brush, made the curved Xes with the wipe out tool, pressed the cloth over it, and let it sit overnight without washing. The next day I used a stencil to add the green and yellow thin dyes.

Again, I used thickened black dye patterned with a kitchen scrubber and a comb on my tile board. I took the print, let it sit about 2 hours, and then added red and blue violet thin dyes. You can see how the red spread out.

Next, I took up brown thickened dye.

First I applied pale apricot thin dye using a stencil (a vinyl place mat). Next I placed a foam stamp under the fabric and rollered thickened brown dye over it. Then, a fellow student introduced me to felt tip type markers that you fill with your own ink or thin dye. I used that to make the boxes.

I combined a stencil, a sponge and a spatula to make the background. Then I used squeeze bottles to apply the red and turquoise. I had hoped the turquoise would spread out more but that wasn’t to be. I think if I had sprayed chemical water (don’t ask) over the fabric before the turquoise went on it would have spread.

For this one I painted two layers over splotchy turquoise and gold. The first layer of thickened turquoise was applied with a brush on vinyl, which was pressed onto the cloth. I used a squeeze bottle for the second layer of metallic gold paint.

Several other fabrics were less successful in that there’s still a lot of white showing. Like I said, I found it tricky to assess the amount of dye to use. The good news is that I can over dye them easily. If any of my fabrics come out well, I’ll show them off to you. Otherwise, they’ll get cut up and used in supporting roles.

Here’s some tool nerd information for those of you who might be interested. The Kemper wipe out tool is about the size of a pencil with silicone rubber shaping edges at both ends. It came with my class kit. The felt tip markers are designed for ink but work with thin dyes. https://www.imaginecrafts.com/learn-fantastix

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Intense Work for Intense Color

Last week I spent five days in Sue Benner’s Expressive Dye-painting and Printing with Procion MX Dyes class at the Quilt Surface Design Symposium (QSDS) in Columbus, Ohio. It’s a good thing the scenery of that thriving mid Ohio city wasn’t a distraction as my days in the studio began at 7:30 a.m. and often ended at 8 p.m., with breaks for meals.

Here’s what I saw on the way to the studio each morning. The studio, on the campus of the Columbus College of Art and Design, is a converted car dealership.

No, Sue didn’t set such hours for us, but I wanted to do as much as possible, and there’s a heap of washerwoman work involved in dyeing that eats up time. Once dyed, the fabric needs to batch (sit at least 12 hours at 70 plus degrees,) be rinsed (agitated in buckets of cold water until the water is mostly free of dye,) and then washed in hot water (we had a washing machine, thank goodness) and dried and ironed.

There are many approaches to dyeing fabric, all of them developed for different purposes. Dyeing solid color yardage needs a different technique than making patterns on cloth. The class I took stressed abstract painting and printing on silk and cotton with thin and thickened dyes. The dye concentrate tablecloth quickly became colorful.

We applied dyes directly to our fabrics with brushes, squeeze bottles, sprayers, and the like. We also monoprinted our fabrics using vinyl sheets and masonite boards known as tile boards.

Here’s my work table when it was tidied up. The big white square is the tile board.

And I haven’t yet mentioned rubbing, stenciling, stamping and the like. We all fell in love with textured vinyl bathtub mats for making rubbings. The pebbled pattern was especially popular. I used it under the fabric on the right below.

I did at least two layers of dyeing on each piece of my fabric. I learned I could let a piece batch an hour (as in the photo below) and then add more dye to it without the need to wash the fabric in between. This was a real time saver as I didn’t need to do a soda ash soak in between layers of dye. That’s right, you need to reapply soda ash between washings.

While we learned by doing, Sue worked on her class demo pieces and showed us how they came out.

Sue also did the brown/chartreuse piece you can see behind her. At the end of the class she cut that up and gave each of us a piece.

The last day we used paint on our fabrics and had some fun with various contests.

Sue even cut up and distributed the fabric underneath the dye concentrates.

I’ll show closeups of my output soon, but here’s a photo of some of it hanging up on my design wall. You can see my dye color documentation sheet on the table. Each of us was to create a color. Mine was pale apricot, which is on the right in the top row.

The work of many of my classmates was outstanding, as was the sharing that blossomed among the students. As often happens, I relied on the kindness of people who were far more experienced than I, as well as those who over packed.

I did participate in some activities not related to dyeing, such as the impromptu photo shoot of my lunch in the cafeteria. The figures are dear possessions of a QSDS staffer who staged them for her photos. BTW, I really like brussel sprouts.

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Play With Surface Design

Well, it was actually play with paint, but surface design sounds fancier. One of my goals for 2017 was to build on fabric I had printed with thickened dyes at a workshop last fall. For no reason I can explain, the dyes faded a lot on some of my fabric when I washed it, especially ones made with a soy wax resist.

soy-wax-1I had three that looked a lot like this; the vibrant greens had mostly washed out.

A recent paint play date gave me a chance to improve them. Participants brought a wild assortment of objects to print with. Some were ad hoc such as springs, cat toys, chop sticks, bubble wrap, and rubber door stoppers; while others were purpose made, such as stencils and fancy foam brushes. I availed myself of many of these tools, plus empty toilet paper tubes, truly the Swiss army knife of printing.

silk-screen-with-paintThe results are definitely more colorful than what I started with. I may add more to them at the next painting session.

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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.

 

 

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Readymade Resists

Quite by accident I found out that white on white printed quilting cotton acts as a resist when painted or dyed. I dyed some fabric pieces that I thought were plain white but weren’t, and I was delighted with the results.

My first cheater resist featured tiny flowers, which aren’t quite my cuppa, but they do stand out.

overdyed-purpleThen, a friend found white fabric woven with polka dots that showed up wonderfully when dye was applied. Here I used periwinkle dye.

overdyed-periwinkleBy this time I began to seek out white on white fabrics I could color. At a store in the middle of Ohio corn fields I found white fabric printed with cracked ice patterns. I used Pebeo Setacolor to paint a strip of it. The white fabric behind the aqua is the original fabric.

overpainted-setacolorThe popularity of white printed on white fabric waxes and wanes, so you might not find plentiful possibilities right now.  Here’s what eQuilter offers at present. However, I suspect if you investigate your stash you may find you already own some examples.

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Mixing Up My Media

Not only did I read a slew of books about making mixed media, I tried out some of the techniques. Despite the sometimes odd looking results, I had fun messing about with fabric, paper, paint, ink, stamps, rubbing plates, and who knows what else. None of the items below are meant as finished products, but as more bits for my “parts garage.”

Fabric paper paintI combined several techniques from Sherrill Kahn’s book in the piece above – masking tape resist, stamping, rubbing, painted tissue paper, and paint washes.

printed feather ghost printI coated a feather with paint, pressed it between two pieces of fabric with a brayer, and got this print.

painted cheeseclothI wrapped lengths of cheesecloth around some PVC pipe and painted them. I layered the painted cheesecloth over the piece below.

fused scraps with cheesecloth

Using Jane Davies’ technique, I fused lots of small fabric scraps to a base, sprinkled on some threads, and covered it all with net. I’ve quilted the whole thing to hold the top layer in place. Now I need to figure out how to use it as a background.

mop ragMy mop rag got promoted to the “parts garage” after faithful service. It began life as a bit of damask table cloth.

Other attempts are mere beginnings. Who knows if they’ll end up in a quilt or the trash. Then, some previous beginnings ended up in finished pieces. I made two small mixed media pieces with bits I had in stock.

Minty FreshMinty Fresh was a way to use an old silk screen, and Open Ended was the latest work for my local art quilt group. In both I simply stitched the fabric pieces down and didn’t bother about piecing.

Open Ended

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