Tag Archives: sun printing

Here Comes The Sun

I found summer was slipping by all too quickly without my promised fabric design activities, so I used a lovely day for sun fabric printing with stencils and PVC tubes. The latter I used for arashi shibori, though with paint, not dye.

Frankly, I find it easier to color fabric with paint than with dye. No soda ash baths, no endless rinsing. Of course the resulting colors aren’t as intense, and the color sits on top of the fabric rather than permeating it. I think your chosen method depends on how you hope to use the fabric.

My equipment was basic – Setacolor transparent paints, foam brushes, three or four stencils, a sprayer, paint containers, cotton fabric, foam core boards, 24 inch long PVC pipes, rubber bands, and painters tape. I mixed three colors of paint – a yellow/orange, a red/orange, and a blue/green.

I did the shibori by wrapping folded fabric around the pipe and securing it with rubber bands. Next I pushed the fabric together to form folds and slopped paint on it. Then I sprayed each wrapped pipe with water to encourage the paint to migrate to inner fabric layers.

You can see the outside fabric is darker and the fabric folds are conduits for paint.

The inner parts have some interesting veining.

My stencils were a mix of bought and created designs. The most successful stencil was a plastic place mat I cut the edges from. Both the leaf and numbers prints were done on patterned fabric.

I finished my day with a second printing on my less successful efforts and produced the following:

I mixed my blue/green and red/orange paints to create purple, which I painted over the fabric on the left. For the fabric on the right I mixed yellow/orange and red/orange paints for an orange/red, which created a more subtle effect.

Update: In response to commenters’ questions, here’s a photo of the place mat I used. The edges were cut off. I think I bought it at Target.


Filed under Fabric Printing, Techniques

Solar Panels

It’s summertime and the garage fabric painting and dyeing studio is now open.  A friend succumbed to a display of Jacquard’s new SolarFast sun printing dye product and I benefited from her purchase.  There’s lots of information about this product on Jacquard’s website and the blog And Then We Set It On Fire, plus videos on YouTube.

Using violet, teal, and scarlet colors and recycled bits of fabric (previous dyeing failures and stained light colored fabric,) we experimented.

SolarFast coasters and washersViolet with drink coasters and washers.

SolarFast cardboard on Moda marblesTeal with shelf liner and packing material on Moda Marbles fabric. Note how the beige in the fabric dulled the teal.

SolarFast crochet on organzaCrocheted antimacassar over violet on silk organza.

SolarFast organza over coastersOrganza laid over drink coasters print.

SolarFast crochet detailCrocheted scarf over scarlet, front side. Below is the reverse side of the same piece.  I have no idea why the pattern came out so much clearer on the reverse.

SolarFast crochet wrong side

SolarFast 2 colors wrong sideSame thing with reverse side of this two color piece using the crocheted scarf.  The packing material looks about the same on both sides.

The keys to success with this product are having everything flat on the fabric (a piece of glass or plexiglass on top is helpful) and removing the resists in the shade. We lost some definition on a few pieces because we were so eager to see the results we removed the materials in the sun. In less than a minute the newly exposed fabric got darker.

My friend got lovely effects with plant material, especially leaves.  Blossoms shriveled too quickly in the hot sun to make a clear pattern.  She also used little bits of stamped metal shapes which left a sharp imprint.

Is this product worth it?  It depends on what’s important to you.

It’s premixed, easy to clean up after, and can be diluted up to 1 to 1 with water. We diluted it with about half part water to one part SolarFast. The resulting colors were pleasant, but not intense.

While the colors can be combined, it’s impossible to see the effect before sun exposure as the product is a murky, chalky color out of the bottle.  Other paints such as Setacolor can be more accurately mixed. The colors don’t blend well on fabric but remain distinct.

It seems designed to work especially well with photo negatives. This is demoed on the above YouTube link. You can get sharper detail than with other sun printing methods. However, Jacquard wants you to use their special transparent sheets for this.

It’s much less messy and works faster than other methods. We exposed our fabric for about an hour due to a doughnut break, but the instructions said the desired effect could print in as little as 15 minutes, varying with color used. Depending on time of year, that could be an advantage. It could also be used by children who are old enough to follow directions. No masks are needed though the product contains ammonia.

It leaves fabric with a soft hand and no stiffness.

It’s expensive compared with other paints that do the same job, and I don’t think it can be used for anything else except sun printing. However, the videos show some great t-shirts made with it, so it may be the best product for sun printing photos.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with this product or any sun printing you’ve done. I need to go back to my other paints and try sun printing with them so I can do some comparisons.



Filed under Fabric Printing, Techniques