Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Printing Fabric (2)

I print on my kitchen table, which has a sheet of metal nailed to it, making it very easy to clean. If you're not lucky enough to have the same thing, a sheet of plastic or several layers of newsprint or brown paper will do the trick. Apart from needing a clean, flat surface to work on, fabric paint often penetrates the fabric you're printing on, so it's best to protect any surfaces that could be affected.

My current set-up, clockwise from the top left: cheap toilet paper for cleaning up; lino blocks; piece of card that serves a registration device for two-colour prints; fabric paint; ordinary printing roller; water-soluble pens for marking positions; foam rollers; cork for printing dots; glass slab for paint; spatula/knife-type thing; washed and ironed fabric.

Paint scooped onto one end of the glass (a spoon would do as well). It's good to get into the habit of cleaning everything you use as you go - dry paint is harder to remove, and you want to avoid contaminating paint colours. It's such a habit for me that I cleaned the knife without thinking, before taking the photo... printing is pretty much the only time I manage to be tidy.

Rolling the paint out with the foam roller. These rollers are sold at hardware shops, for painting with enamel paint. Fabric paint is softer and more slippery than the ink normally used for lino printing; an ordinary roller just skids across the glass without picking up any paint. Roll lightly, and keep lifting the roller to get the paint spread all the way around it. Experiment a bit until you have a feel for the kind of coverage you need. If you're used to lino ink, you'll know the sound the ink makes when you have just too much on the glass - that's what you want here. Think of car tyres on a wet road.

Oh, and the glass slab is a bathroom shelf. You can use any flat, non-porous surface that's big enough. Plates, trays, mirrors....

Roll the ink lightly onto the block. In the best tradition of TV chefs, 'this is one I prepared earlier', not the block from the last post. I hadn't finished cutting it and I wanted to print!

Block inked. Make sure that it's all covered; looking at it from an angle helps you see the shine of wet paint. You'll also be able to see if you've inked any bits that aren't meant to print. Wipe those clean with some toilet paper (and check the block again in case you've wiped a printing part). I've trimmed this block pretty close to the edges of the design to make it easier to ink.


suzanne said...

Great tutorials - thank you so much for sharing (and especially the highly technical 'sitting on the lino to warm it up' tip - that is pure genius, and will be most useful as winter tightens its grip where I am!).

Lovely Paper said...

i love your tutorial! i'm having no trouble at all following along :) thank you for taking the time to do this.

Mrs. Benitez said...

Wonderful! I can't wait for the next instalment.

Where do you buy your lino (in Cape Town), if you don't mind me asking?

Jesse said...

Thank you!

Mrs Benitez: to be perfectly honest, I haven't bought lino for years... I have a roll big enough to cover my bathroom floor (it was a gift) and a stack of offcuts from friends who lost their initial enthusiasm for the stuff. But I do think that the art shop in Observatory stocks it at good prices.

kathryn said...

thanks - i'm so going to try this now i have time ( MA all finished, show friday night, eek )
you have properly inspired me.

Mrs. Benitez said...

Thanks for the tip - I've been meaning to get my rear into gear and print some cards for, ooh... the last 5 Chrizmizzes, at least.

Not that I expect this year to be any different but, hey - consider me properly inspired, too.

Heidi said...


I'm new to your blog, but I am definitely a fan. I've been experimenting with lino-printing fabric but have been having a hard time finding information on how to deal with the very specific problems of the ink being too slippery, etc..

I know this is an old post, but THANK YOU THANK YOU! I'm so excited to see someone else doing such gorgeous work with one of my favorite mediums.

You just lit the fire under my butt to try this again...hehe...


kimyibo said...

than you!!!! you are so generous!