Tuesday, 27 March 2012

And now it's March!

We've all been very busy lately, for some reason. Three of us were involved in organising the next travelling suitcase exhibition for ATASDA - see the web page, for more details. Many of us faced various life challenges that kept us away from the blog. But we were still meeting and doing things together and some of us even managed to get some creative time.

One thing we've been playing with lately is transfer printing. This is a fun technique you can use to print onto man-made fibres, using Polysol dyes. Basically, you paint, print or otherwise get colour and/or texture onto ordinary printer paper. When it's dry, you iron it onto the fabric, using just the paper or various resists and cut-outs. Anything that you lay down between the paper and the fabric acts as a resist. You can usually use the papers multiple times before they're exhausted. It's a good idea to lay down baking paper (or parchment paper) to protect your ironing board from stray bits of colour, which will transfer to any man-made fibres next time you're ironing. It's also a good idea to use a layer of baking paper between your iron and the transfer paper, for the same reason.

Here's some papers that Nola painted in one of our sessions:
You can see that's she's added texture in some places, by folding, pleating or crumpling the paper, painting on lines and other elements with the dye or adding salt crystals to the wet sheet. Sometimes, not all the sheet has been painted, which adds shape to the fabric designs when it's printed.

Here's one she printed using freehand cutout paper shapes as a resist:  
The cut-outs picked up dye from the first print so they could be used as dyeing elements in their own right. Nola printed with them onto satin fabric with crystal organza overlaid on the same fabric. The shapes bled a little around the outside, yielding an outline of the shape on the organza.  

Crystal organza overlay with bleeding edges
We also used a lot of plants from the garden. Here's one Tricia did with parsley as a resist, ironing quite heavily...

... and another using dianella seed heads.

Dianellas are grass-like plants, generally known as flax lilies, and these particular ones are native to Australia. The seed heads had marvellous delicate swirly shapes that attracted us at once for transfer printing. We also used daisy leaves, lemongrass seed heads, celery, rosemary leaves and photinea leaves.

Here's one from Nola using multiple layers and photinea leaves.
She laid down a background using a yellow paper. She laid over the photinea leaves and printed with a blue paper sheet, which had random patterns marked into it during painting. Then she moved the leaves a little and ironed again with an older paper sheet that had a magenta ripple effect, rather like a tree shape, in the centre. This method of multiple layers gives the most interesting effects.

Here are some more of Tricia's pieces: 

Yellow background, dianella seed heads and lemongrass seeds as resist with blue

Yellow background, then resists of celery leaves and dianella seed heads, overprinted with magenta

Yellow fabric, lemon-           Yellow with daisy leaf, blue        Yellow background,
grass seed heads with            with dianella seed heads            blue with daisy leaf
blue, dianella  seed heads
with magenta             

These ones are Nola's:

Another interesting feature of transfer printing is using commercial papers. Many man-made fibres are printed commercially using this method and, once the image begins to fade, the papers are sold as wrapping paper. This is like a heavy-weight tissue paper, usually with rather dull-coloured images. Nola had two of these papers to experiment with, one of dolphins...
...and one of leaves.

The second image here has been printed over a first print of yellow. Aren't the colours different?

(More photos to come from the other girls!)

We bought our Polysol dyes from Batik Oetoro. The trick with this technique seems to be to use an iron that is as hot as the fabric will stand. Using baking paper between your iron and the paper and fabric allows you to use a higher heat that you might usually do with man-made fibres. Like so many of these techniques, it's just a case of experimenting until you get something you like.

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