A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Concluding our sun printing month

Our sun printing month has come to an end. I hope you have enjoyed all of the great information on this fun and easy technique.

I don't know about you, but I've learned a lot this month. As I mentioned earlier, I'm really partial to Dye-Na-Flow and Setacolor, but Robbie's experiments with SolarFast have me interested in trying it. I've not had much luck with lace, but after seeing LuAnn's pieces, I think I really need to experiment again and loved her cheesecloth and plastic wrap fabrics. Lastly, Sue's preservation of botanicals is a technique I will definitely try with my ferns, and my hubby's winter plants might have to move over so I can put some of my pieces under those grow lights.

I'll leave you with a few more of my sun printed pieces.

Sun printed apron using Setacolor

Vintage handkerchiefs sun printed with Setacolor

One of my blog readers emailed me a couple years ago asking if I ever used Dye-na-Flow for sun printing. I told her I'd try it and if I liked it I'd write a short tutorial for her to hand out to her group for their next play time. Anyway, here is the link to my blog post about Dye-na-Flow with the link to that pdf at the very bottom. I couldn't post it on this blog for some reason.

Sun printing with ferns and plastic needlepoint canvas with Dye-na-Flow  

Thank you LuAnn, Robbie, and Sue for helping me with this month's topic.  I hope our posts this month have inspired you to get out and sun print.

And now I can't wait to see what Judy has in store for us in July.

Friday, June 27, 2014

What I've Done with Sunprinted Fabrics, by Sue A

Watercolor Garden
For my final post, I wanted to show you what I have done with some of my sunprints.  When I first started sunprinting, I got so addicted to the process that I wanted to print fabric every day that I could get it to work.  I then needed to figure out what I was going to do with my new fabrics.  One of the first pieces I used sunprints in was "Watercolor Garden".  I had pieced the center area, but wanted to make the piece bigger and wondered if I could paint and print fabrics specifically for the borders.  I first drew out the idea with crayons, then painted the fabric to match the drawings, and sunprinted... It worked!!  I did find out that shapes cut from plain paper would work for prints, but the more paint that built up on the paper pieces, the better the prints came out.  After that, I tried using the thin craft foam for my butterflies and hummingbirds. The foam worked much better than the paper. Paper will keep the paint from moving underneath it, instead of letting it move, resulting in softer prints.  In the photo, you might be able to see that I did the side borders earlier in the day from the upper and lower ones.  The later prints came out much sharper due to lower humidity later in the day.  Lots of lessons learned from this project.

Long narrow hanging and a couple 8"x10" pieces.

At the time I began my journey into sunpinring, I was making wall hangings, table runners and more that I sold at art and craft shows. I started using sunprints in small pieces made for framing or other wall pieces.  I even made some guides from bamboo slats to help me to plan my arrangement layouts. I had grids to do standard frame sizes from 3 1/2"x5" to 8"x10", and even bookmark sizes to fill up my fat quarters. I made tons of simple bordered sunprints that could be popped into standard frames, those led to longer and larger hangings with multiple prints. I laminated small prints onto card stock for the bookmarks. 

Tent Display at an Art Show

Making wall pieces for sale gave me a great reason to play with paint and my flowers every day I possibly could. I played with colors I normally don't care for (not everyone likes "my" colors), in addition to a lot of my favorite pinks, blues and greens... The photo, right, shows one of my displays when I was the most prolific at painting, sunprinting and creating. 

I did my last art show in 2008 after my health started declining severely.  I went through a couple years after that where much of my painting ended up being "rocks and mud" colors... What was up with that???  I even went 2 years at a time without doing any sunprinting or fabric painting at all, two different times...  Lost my creativity... Never thought that would EVER happen!!! I also lost my ability to remember even flower names, not to mention my own name?!? Something was really wrong!!  Finally, just this past Winter, I found that I have been bitten at least 3 different times by tiny little deer ticks over the past 10 or more years, which gave me Lyme disease and two other infections they passed on to me... IKKK!!!  Now I know why I've been so sick!  From crawling around, playing in my own gardens...  Will that keep me out of them in the future???  NOT!! I am just a lot more careful now... I spray myself with Geranium oil that repels the nasty little critters and with treatment, am slowly getting back to doing things I love again, like sunprinting...  The sunprinting session shown in the previous post was the first I have put paint to fabric in 2 years...  It felt good to get back to playing again...

OK... Off that tangent and back to the sunprints....  
Summer Rainbow- Private Collection

"Summer Rainbow" was one of the first pieces I did using a larger arrangement of leaves and flowers for the sunprinted center panel.  For this print, I used different types of Ferns, foliage from Cosmos plants (the wispy stuff), Gaillardia flowers, Plumbago flowers, a butterfly and a hummingbird both cut from foam.  The sunprint in this piece began 18" square. More involved prints like this one take a lot longer than most to lay the items on, so the spray bottle is used a lot and I have to move as fast as I can so the paint doesn't start to dry before I want it to.

Right Half Yard Sunprint

Left Half Yard Sunprint
The two half yard pieces above, made me question my sanity one day, and this was before my mind started leaving.... I decided to do two half yard sunprints at one time... It might be hard to see, but the two pieces were originally one full yard of fabric that I painted and then sunprinted at one time...  Talk about having to work fast!!  That was a lot of leaves and flowers to place onto the wet paint in a hurry. And what made it even more interesting was that I had to do it all while in the sun since I had to lay the fabric out on my large table. I have no portable boards that big, and didn't have the sun umbrella then.  I did have all the leaves and flowers close by and ready to go before paint was applied... Then I just went with it!  I believe I put down the leaves and such on the left side first, since the colors are a little less blended from less water spritzing...  Working in the shade, then moving things to the sun is MUCH easier!!  These two pieces are still waiting to see what I will do with them...
Dark colors with Dye-Na-Flow
Black paint over bright Batik

 I've played with deep, dark colors....

I've played with Black paint on Batiks...

Hot Pink and Orange

I've gone crazy with bright, eye popping colors...   I Really NEEDED color therapy that Fall....

I've painted and printed just about every color of the rainbow....Even lime green even before I had Lyme...
A day's work in October 2012...

Amazingly, I sometimes get the best printing days in Fall... there is  more sun with less humidity, and less breezes to blow things away...  It is also cooler to work when it is 70 and not 90 degrees out... (Pardon the dead washing machine in parts by the front door... We ended up with a new one when that one couldn't be fixed.) This is the last time I painted fabric before doing the previous post this past week... Notice the color on the paint boards... It's still there... :)
Sunprint Covered Journals and Photo Albums

...And then I tried to figure out what to do with the finished fabrics...  Here are some of my most recent sunprint covered journals and mini photo albums. After my "creative crash", I stopped being able to come up with much in the line of quilts, so began making book covers... I did plan many of my prints so that I would have the sizes of designs I would need for the book covers. Other fat quarters are done pretty random with no idea of what I'll do with them. I still dream of making art quilts again someday...

I am praying that once I kick the "bugs" out of my brain and everywhere else, that I will be back in the "creative groove" again....  At least now that I know what caused the crash, and I know there is hope of things returning to somewhat normal in the future...   You can check out my blog at AndrusGardensQuilts.com to see what I have or haven't been doing...  My lack of creativity really shows there more than I'd like these days... If interested, you can follow links from my blog to my online shops on ArtFire, where I have fabric, journals, and art quilts for sale.

I hope that my posts this week have given you a little bit of a nudge to go out and play in the sun, or give sunprinting indoors a try!  Whether you have gardens to steal leaves and flowers out of, or you just play with confetti or craft foam shapes or other things, you can have a blast!  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

More Sunprinting from the Gardens

Sue A, again today...  Showing you how I use flowers from my gardens for my sunprints, and a few other goodies I play with.
June 2014 Painting Setup

This post will show some printing I did just a few days ago. Due to circumstances beyond my control (getting very sick and getting a new roof on our home last summer), this is the first I have played with paint on fabric in nearly 2 years. It definitely felt great "slinging" paint again!  For now, I am just using a sun umbrella for added shade to work under.. if all goes well, I will be putting up the "Big Top" soon so I can print and paint much easier out here.
Various Paints, Confetti and Foamie shapes

This photo, left, shows some of the different paints I play with. The first paints I ever used for sunprints were Versatex Air Brush Inks, just because I had them on hand for a different type of project. They worked great, and I was hooked!  I also play with Lumiere, Dye-Na-Flow, Textile paints, and Super Sparkle by Jacquard; a bit of Setacolor (the best gold metallic); Liquitex pearl medium; and random craft paints. I mix my own colors of the Dye-Na-Flow and textile paints. Also in the photo are a couple kinds of mylar confetti and a bunch of shapes cut from thin craft foam sheets.
Flowers nearby for resists...

This photo shows some of my flower victims subjects waiting to be used as resists in my printing.  I tend to fill the planters near my front door with flowers that I like to use for printing, so they are handy to work with. Later in Summer, I will have tall garden Phlox that I love to use, but now, I will pull mostly from the planters. "Weeds" from nearby fields also work very well, such as various Daisies, Queen Ann's Lace, and more.

First application of paint...

First, the wet fabric is smoothed onto a paint board. Notice this one hasn't been cleaned from a previous session... Later you will see that none of the old paint stuck to the new fabric.  The first brush-fulls of paint are applied... I have moved on from just straight diagonal lines to swooshes on the diagonal... For this piece, I will just use this purple color in various shades.

Look what water drops do to the paint!

The lighter shades are achieved just by emptying the brush of color and adding a bit of water if needed... The more water, the lighter the color will be.  This color was mixed from the Dye-Na-Flow paints, which give deep, rich colors with very little added feel of the paint.  Spritzing with the spray bottle keeps the paint wet, and also adds some patterning as well as encourages running and blending of the colors.

Patting the Fern tight to the wet paint.

Once the fabric is painted, the leaves and other goodies are added...  Notice in the photo, left, that the fern doesn't want to lie flat on the paint right away even though it has been pressed ahead of time... It needs to be patted onto the fabric where the moisture will keep it flat.  I keep a damp rag nearby to clean the paint of my fingertips during the placing and patting to keep from moving colors where I don't want them... Not so important on a monochromatic piece, but splots of random colors don't look so great on multicolored pieces.

For this piece, I want to create a few arrangements with Ferns, other leaves and flowers.  In this photo, right, I have placed a second fern and then added some Maple and Ginkgo leaves around the first Fern.
Choosing flowers.

The next step is to choose my flower victims subjects from the  planters. I love the star shape of the Nicotiana, or Flowering Tobacco, flowers.  Please pardon the camera strap in the photo.... oops!

Cut Nicotiana flower.

Flowers such as these, with long tube shapes need to have the backs cut off before using them... This will keep them from being picked up by a breeze during the drying process...

Patting down the flower.

Just as was done with the Fern, the flowers need to be carefully patted down onto the wet paint.  It is best to roll your finger off the petals to keep them from sticking to it.  I have had many little flowers perfectly placed, only to lift my finger and find the flower stuck to it.  Most of the flowers I use will lay flat with just a little bit of patting. Some may need  to wilt slightly before they stay put.  Unfortunately, most are too fragile to press ahead of time.

Verbena flowers.

The victim subject for the second arrangement is a cluster of Verbena florets. These are also tube backed flowers, so they also get cut to keep them from becoming sails in the breeze.

Verbena florets being cut off.

I cut the florets into a pile next to my fabric, hoping they don't blow away before I get them onto the paint.  While I am working, I keep spritzing my fabric to keep the paint wet, but not too sloppy... You will notice the shading of the colors change as things progress.

Paint beginning to dry.

Verbena florets and some Mulberry leaves in place around the second fern. I also added a couple Vinca flowers with some tiny Fern pieces to the upper left and some Cinquefoil leaves across the top.  The last to be added were some tiny mylar confetti butterflies.  I am always looking out for confetti shapes. I never know what I will find!  You can see how the colors are separating a bit as the paint dries... Paint never dries the same way twice... so much fun!!

Partly dried paint with water drops added.

This photo, left shows what happens when water is spritzed on the partially dried paint... The water droplets lighten the areas they land on.  When the paint is still wet, these spots will even out as the paint moves around, but once a bit dry, they will stay. I will often spritz my pieces a number of times to be sure I get a bit of this mottling. It adds so much interest!

Fern and Verbena done.

Here is the fern with the Verbena florets. It has dried and some of the leaves have been removed. See how the flowers shrank while in the sun??  If I am lucky, I can get two uses out of some fresh flowers, but these only lasted through one.

First Fern arrangement finished.

This photo, left, shows the first arrangement finished... See how the red color stayed in some areas and in others, it moves all the way out? Red  tends to stay the most when used less diluted. It still results in very interesting prints.

Following are a few more photos just with captions showing a couple more pieces I did this same day.


"My" Blue, Pink and Green first painted on.
Mulberry leaves and foam shapes added.

Two pieces in the sun.

Dried Blue Pink Green with some items removed.

Notice how the paint changes in look from first being applied to when it is dry... The wetter the fabric, the more running, bleeding and blending that happens...  The sharp contrasts and lines soften a lot.

Green metallic craft paint thinned.

Crispy fern  moved from purple fabric.

The third piece I did was in all green, using some of the metallic craft paint in green and copper added.  The craft paints work best when thinned to the consistency of cream.  The photo above, right, shows one of the ferns after being removed from the first piece and placed on the green. It was a bit too dry, so I spritzed it with water so that it would soften and lie flat on the new paint.  If doing a lot of printing on a good day, moving things from a dry piece to a wet one makes things go faster. I don't have to think about how I want to arrange things again.  I did have to use new flowers for most of the Verbenas.

Blue, Pink, Green showing sparkles.

I tried to catch the sparkle of the pearlecent medium I painted on over the colors, before adding the leaves and foamies for this piece. It's really hard to catch the shimmer with the camera. You also can see that the fabric is nice and soft  and drapes nicely even before heat setting with the iron...

This photo shows the blue, pink green piece being peeled from the board... The fabric sticks tight to the boards during the drying... this keeps it nice and flat and keeps the breezes from blowing the dried fabrics away.  The only time I worry about paint transfer from the boards is when I do a scrunch patterned fabric. When the wet, painted fabric is pushed on top of the old paint, some will then transfer to the new piece...

Finished Green and Purple pieces that used the same leaves and most of the flowers.

The photo above shows both the green and purple pieces side by side. Even with the same leaves used, the designs are not identical.. The air was also less humid by the time I did the green piece... Here in NE PA, conditions change from hour to hour, and on the best printing days I only have about 3 to 4 hours tops to get good prints on a good day, less other times.  Prints done in more humid conditions take longer to dry, and the results are  much more variable...  That makes sunprinting so addicting!!  The results are nearly always a surprise!! 

Go out and have some fun in the sun!   Tomorrow, I will show you a few more fabrics I have done and some finished pieces I have made from them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Preserving leaves for Sunprinting

Curling Ginkgo leaf
Sue A here again...  As you have seen in  my previous posts, I love to use leaves from my gardens for sunprinting. Most of the leaves I use behave quite well with just a bit of pressing between newspapers before using and for storing them for later print sessions. Others don't behave as well, such as Maple, Ginkgo and other thicker tree leaves. Maple and Oak leaves don't like to lie flat without a long time of pressing to start with, and I often would iron them between pieces of waxed paper to get them flat faster, but then they would begin to curl on the edges while the fabric and paint were drying, causing the prints to have less sharp edges. Even worse, the curling allows breezes to catch them and blow them right off the fabric before the prints can form (and where I live, there is usually a breeze). I Love Ginkgo leaves, and had been able to only collect a few of them to use. The first time I used them, they curled and got crispy right away... They had been pressed for quite a while after finding them, and I needed to find a way to keep them from curling and also be able to use them over and over since I didn't have a nearby source for them at the time.  That is when I remembered preserving Fall leaves using glycerine when I was a kid.  I gave it a try, and it worked!  Here is how I used the glycerine to preserve my leaves, making them more flexible.

Layering leaves in the glycerine solution

What you need:
*Glycerin-  available in pharmacies.
*Hot water
*Low container with lid
*Pressed or partially dried, pressed leaves… Maple, Ginkgo, Oak, Linden, Grape, and even ferns can be done.

Combine of one part glycerin to two parts very hot water and mix well.
Pour some of the solution into your container. I used a low, wide plastic food storage container with a tight fitting lid.

Begin layering the leaves in the container, making sure you have both sides of each leaf covered with the glycerin solution. Keep adding more leaves and solution until you have all your leaves submerged.
Weight on leaves

To be sure all of the leaves stay covered, place a lid from a smaller container with a weight on top of the stack of leaves to keep them submerged. Here, I "floated' a plastic lid from a large yogurt container on top of the leaves, then added a glass coaster for weight.

Put a lid on the container, and let the leaves soak for at least 24 hours in a cool, dark place. I found that about 2 days gave the best results with my fairly dry leaves. Fresher leaves may need a longer soak time. The solution will turn darker in color.
First batch of leaves

After your leaves have soaked long enough for them to become pliable, remove them carefully from the solution and place on layers of paper towels. After blotting the solution off, they are ready to use for sunprinting. Some leaves may still need a bit more persuading to lie flat, so I may press with my iron between layers of waxed paper, or stack them in my newspapers for a couple days depending on how soon I want to use them. In the photo, left, you can see that my Ferns and Ginkgos were a  bit curled right out of the glycerine.

Preserved Ginkgo leaf still flexible

The treated leaves will remain flexible even after a number of uses. The photo, right, shows one of the treated ginkgo leaves as it was being removed from a dried piece of fabric.

Preserving the leaves like this has made sunprinting with many types of leaves much easier. Maple leaves no longer curl, and they blow off the fabric much less. Now I am able to reuse more of my leaves, and the ferns I treated didn’t break as I pulled them off the dry fabric. Definitely a plus!
Still Flexible Ginkgo

So far I have been storing my treated leaves in the newspapers as I always have (or in the paper towels used for blotting, layered with newspaper). I found some suggestions that they should be stored in the freezer, but I have not found that to be needed… The photo, left, shows one of my first preserved Ginkgo leaves that has been stored for four years in paper towels stacked with newspaper (I reuse the paper towels a few times for blotting, so that is why they look dirty in the photo).  These have been stored in regular house conditions between sunprinting sessions, no freezer needed.
Flexible Mulberry leaf stored in newspaper.

Now any time I get the urge to sunprint, my leaves are ready and waiting... No having to pick leaves off trees, ironing, or long pressing times.  Really helpful since I try to find leaves in all sizes, from tiny new ones in early Spring to the fully mature large ones in Fall.  In some cases, the preserved leaves work much better than just pressed ones. Mulberry leaves can have a bit of fuzz on them, in addition to getting crispy really fast. After preserving, they give me much sharper, more reliable prints.

Small Ginkgo Tree

Now that I have planted a couple of baby Ginkgo trees in my own gardens, I will have a nice supply of leaves to play with in the coming years, and don't have to worry as much about losing a few here and there. The Mulberry leaves are also from a tree I planted a few years ago. Also, the veins in glycerine preserved leaves remain plump so the back sides can be used for other techniques, such as leaf printing or making rubbings.

Now if I could just find a way to preserve some of my favorite fragile flowers...   I'll show you how I use them right out of the gardens in the next post.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sunprinting Indoors by Sue A

Greenhouse/Sunroom, AKA the Wet Studio
I usually paint and print outdoors, but here in NE PA,  the number of good days and hours in those days ideal for sunprinting are limited. If I need something different from what I have in stock, I am stuck having to wait till warm weather.  This post is modified from one that I did when I didn't have "just the right" fabrics for a project I was working on one Winter.

With my degree is in floriculture, and having owned a couple greenhouse businesses, I just happen to have a germination chamber for starting seeds indoors in the sunroom/greenhouse on the back of our home.  It has shelves with fluorescent lights, that light and warm whatever is placed on the shelf. I thought this would be perfect to try for indoor printing... The photo, upper right, shows the greenhouse as it looked back in 2007... the germination chamber is on the right side of the photo next to the furnace.

Fabric smoothed onto paint board

The process begins as with outdoor sunprinting... Smoothing the wet fabric onto a paint board... The color you see is what was left from a previous piece of fabric. It is dry and doesn't transfer to the new fabric even though it shows through the white fabric in the photo.

Thinned textile paint brushed on wet fabric.

Thinned textile paint is brushed onto the wet fabric.

Patting down a Fern

 Leaves are placed over the wet paint and patted tight to the fabric surface...  Once the leaves were added, Sea salt was sprinkled between the leaves...

Board with painted fabric placed under lights

When everything was added to the fabric, it was placed under the lights.  For best results, the board with the fabric needs to be quite close to the lights to take full advantage of the warming of the bulbs to speed drying.  The day I did this, the temp of my room was quite cool (upper 40's... we just kept it warm enough for the plants I overwinter in there), so drying was slower that I wanted. Being an impatient person, I ended up placing the board on the floor near the heat outlet of the furnace to speed things up. The furnace is one where the heat blows out of the bottom, so I placed the board on the floor so it got a gentle warm breeze from it. (Too direct a blast of air would blow things off the fabric.) It worked great! The fluorescent lights work best when the air temperature is in the 70's or higher like a day I would sunprint outdoors. That way, the temperature under the lights is even warmer for faster drying.  If you have the room and the patience, successful prints can be made indoors even without additional lights or the moving warm air of  a furnace. A warm temperature and low humidity is enough to do the job, it just takes much longer for the fabric to dry.
Dried fabric with leaves still on

This picture, left, shows the salt pulling the paint into neat patterns between the leaves.

First fern removed

Here is the dry fabric, photo right, showing the result after the fern  and salt was removed.  If they are removed before completely “crispy” dry, leaves can be reused (I put them back in the newspapers).  If too dry, the ferns tend to break apart. Also, if thicker paint is used, the ferns or leaves can also stick on the fabric when things are dry. If this happens, I will spritz the leaves with water to soften them. Just don't get things too wet.
Finished fabrics

After all the leaves, etc. are removed, and the salt brushed off (or scraped off using a wide putty knife if it is stuck tight), the fabric needs to be heat set. I usually begin by ironing on the back side of the fabric, then the painted side, using a pressing cloth over it. If the fabric is stiff from salt dissolving and drying on it, carefully rinse it in clear water to remove the salt after heat setting. Lay the fabric flat on a clean towel to dry after letting excess water drip off (wringing out the water can cause abrasions or cracking to the paint on the fabric surface). The photo, left, shows two pieces I did during this session.  I needed these  to continue with a work in progress that I called my “puzzle” while it was in progress.  I used various Ferns and other lacy, delicate leaves along with butterfly shapes cut from thin foam for the sunprints.

This is piece in progress that prompted the winter sunprinting session.  I started construction with the border, then worked from one corner to the other (in a totally non-quilt-police-approved method... lots of little fused quilt sandwiches satin stitched together). The outer border and inner border, around the large sunprint, are pieces of my painted fabrics and various ivories stitched with black thread to resemble stained glass. It covered my whole 3′x4′ cutting table as I worked on it, using many sunprints from various painting sessions the previous summer in addition to the new ones.

The "Puzzle" became "Stained Glass and Ferns"

This is the finished quilt. By doing the sunprints in the winter, I was able to finish the piece just the way I saw it in my head. "Stained Glass and Ferns" has traveled to many shows, including International Quilt Festival in Houston.

Even though it is usually referred to as sunprinting, you can see the sun is Not needed when using paints... Placing the fabric in the sun is the most efficient way to dry it, but if you have the patience and time, you can print any time of year.  I still do most of my printing in the summer, since I don't have much indoor space for laying out the boards of fabric for drying (my greenhouse is now home to two large dogs, who shed way too much for working with fabric there any more... I'd have dog hair prints along with the leaf prints (grin). I also don't have the patience to wait hours and  hours for the fabric to dry and the prints to form... 

Go ahead and play!! See what you come up with!