Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Printing Fabric (3)

Generally printmakers 'pull proofs' before launching into the final print run. It's a good idea to test your print on scrap fabric or paper to see if you like the look of it, because more cutting might be required. But this one's fairly predictable...

Pick the inked block up by the edges, turn it over and plop it onto the fabric. (Try not to get ink on your fingers like I've done). If you're doing a rigid repeat or using more than one colour, you'll probably need to mark out some positions using a water-soluble pen. Here, I'm just winging it.

(The fabric is zig-zagged around all the cut edges because I wash everything before printing - new fabric to remove sizing that might interfere with ink take-up, and old fabric because you never know where it's been.)


Apply pressure. Just lean on the block if it's small enough, or use a roller if it's bigger than your hand. Hold the block in place with your other hand for the roller method (tricky if you're taking pictures as well).


Lift the block straight off so you don't smudge the print.

And then just keep going....

The paint should dry to the touch quickly, as it's only a thin layer. The next step is to cure the fabric so that it's washable. Instructions should come with the fabric paint, or at least be on the manufacturer's website, but just in case: most fabric paints require heat setting. Apparently this can be done in a tumble drier, but the safest way is to iron the print from the back on the highest setting your iron has. Work slowly across the fabric, stopping just short of scorching it. You might see steam coming off - that means it's working.

Fabric can also be cured in the oven. Set the oven to 180 C (356 F) and fold the fabric with the printed surface on the inside. When the oven is hot, turn it off, place the fabric on a baking tray, stick it in the oven, and walk away. 5 minutes is supposed to be sufficient; I'm more comfortable with 10. I'm also paranoid, so I give the fabric a quick once-over with an iron as well, just to be sure.

If you've marked positions with a pen, dunk the fabric in water for a few moments to remove the marks. You'll be able to check if the paint has cured properly, too, because uncured paint goes slimy in water.

10 comments:

Meghan said...

Jesse-

Thank you so much for these great tutorials!! I'm becoming more interested in fabric printing and patterning, so these come at the perfect time. Your fabric looks beautiful, as always.

Cristina said...

Jesse, that is so coll! I could do that but in another life maybe ;)
No time, and now no patience .....

Kutuu said...

I love those leaves! They'd make a great tote .... I'm a big fan of totes right now!! :o)

Your blog is enough to make me want to try some fabric stuff you know .... now where's that sewing box?!

sooziebee said...

Hi there Jesse
I found your blog from a link from SkinnylaMinx, and just wanted to say these tutorials are the best. I have wanted to do some block printing on fabric for ages but have never known where to start. I was given a load of fabric paints, boxes of them, from a friend I met on a textiles course and I'm dying (ha, excuse the pun!) to use them. Thanks to you I will be able to do just that. PS I'm gonna add you to my blog roll for future ref if thats ok?

Valentina said...

marvellous! i want to try it soon!

Anna said...

I love your blog and your work!
I'm wondering how you manage to align the lino blocks properly so that the pattern gets spaced evenly? Do you mark the fabric up with a ruler?
Thanks :)

Jesse said...

Thanks, Anna! I usually just judge by eye, because none of my designs so far need to be perfectly aligned. I sometimes use the distance from the edge of the last print to the edge of the lino block as a guide, but it's not perfect.

Phil Cummings said...

I've been doing block prints for a long time and have always preferred Speedball oil based ink. I have never used fabric inks but now I am faced with a fabric project. Speedball prints well on fabric but it seems that I've been ignorant of another way to go. What brands of fabric ink do you use and what companies make them?

Anonymous said...

I am inspired by the apparent ease and clarity of your prints...but it is not going so well for me. I have cut a large (9" x 12") lino block into crude wide stripes...I was hoping to make a large peice of striped fabric (4 feet x 7 feet). A bold strong graphic. On top of the stripes I was planning on printing solid circles randomly.

The ink doesn't seem to go on thick enough and I get only a faint shadow of the image.

Maybe the ink should be thicker? Will it still have a crisp ege then? I have been told to let the ink dry for a bit. I have tried Jaquard and acrylic paint. I have not yet tried Jacquard with an extender. Can you recommend a good product and method?

Jesse said...

Are you using a textured fabric? The smoother the fabric, the more intense your print will be. I use a standard textile silkscreen ink, it's fairly runny, so I don't think dryer ink would help.

The colour you're printing in and on could be contributing: light ink on a dark fabric almost always prints blotchy, and dark ink on light fabric too. Light ink on light fabric gives the best results.

Hope that helps!