When spring has sprung it is so lush with green that I just need to do something creative with it! Yes, Eco printing is a favourite of mine but sometimes you just need to keep it super simple. (just ask my new knee) The best thing is you can pretty well use anything… Let me explain.
My Favourite Dye/Paint – Dye-Na-Flow
I’m never quite sure what to call this since it is not exactly either. It goes on like paint but feels more like dye when done. I use basic primary colours and mix the colours that I want.
So what is Sunprinting? Well, listen closely; it is a way to print, a method which seems quite magical without the use of a photosensitive emulsion. What that means; the paint I am using is not really sensitive to the sun like what photographic paper would be (I remember the work in the darkroom photography class in college)
In this process the way the paint ‘moves’ as it dries makes the finished print look like a silhouette. The variations in the paint, contact to fabric and details can make for amazingly intricate designs. A kind person explained to me that ‘osmosis’ is the magic behind the colourful paint moving to another area as it dries.
What to use:
Since the shapes of your objects is what makes the prints, look for foliage (or any interesting objects) that is quite flat. The closer they lie on the surface – the more precise the print it makes. Every year the ferns come up and I am excited to use them in some way as they will later wither in the heat of summer. Look closely at ferns and see such amazing detail edges. There are no rules, even things like grasses give interesting shapes.
Prepping the Fabric:
Since Dye-Na-Flow will print on natural and manufactured fabrics, you can use pretty well any. I have noticed that thicker cotton fabrics tend to have less contrast in their prints, probably since they are so absorbent. It my tests I have loved the way that the polyester (blouse weight) prints.
Wet the fabric by dipping in or by spraying with water. I mostly work outside so having it wet also helps it from flying away. Using a plastic sheet to protect the surface of a table is a good idea. I like using large trays for ease of movement.
The amount of paint and coverage is totally up to you, as that will add complexity to the final print design. I like variation so I mix colours; wet-on-wet, letting them bleed together. If it’s really hot keep the fabric wet until all the stuff is placed.
Make sure the plant matter is as flat as possible. It often seems Mother Nature decides to throw me some wind so I use some small pebbles to keep the leaves in place. Sprinkling salt on will also effect the way the paint dries; creating some quite speckled areas, but I have yet to try it.
Wow, look at that detail sunprinting on fabric gives! As the uncovered areas dry they draw the wet paint from under the foliage making it lighter in colour so making sure it is not too dry to start is key.. Ferns are especially flat and large so they are my favourite.
When it is dry; (often very quick in hot summer) the sun is really not needed, remove the green matter. It can often be used again. Areas where the leaves are not completely flat the edges will be more soft and blurry, but that often adds charm to the designs.
Don’t Limit Yorself:
I decided that I wanted even more variation so after printing one time and ironing (to set the paint) I added more paint and ‘sunprinted’ again; then they become less obvious silhouette prints.
Once those leaves are removed they now overlap the previous prints. My mind is just going crazy with ideas…
When you are out for a walk… look at all the plants around you even Honeysuckle blooms! The dark use of blue/purple is dramatic on this polyester fabric…
It would make the most lovely unique cushion. Imagine even using these in a custom quilt.
Weeds have some of the most amazing blooms; intricate details that are perfect to sunprint.
This cotton print has a smoky look due to the use of black. I try to not use too much black as it is somewhat lifeless, try to mix your dark colours…
Oh that sawtooth edge! Sunprinting is such a magical secret…
Paint/Dye, sunprinting on fabric – ferns equal design perfection.
Chaos or organized; leave a bit to chance, it may reward you.
Sunprinting on fabric looks like air-brushed art (using plants as masks with spraying) but couldn’t be easier. Surface design can get even more unique and ‘easy’. Open the endless possibilities – look around and imagine.