Acrylic paint on fabric – some experiments

While I was writing my article for Quiltwow on using acrylic paint on fabric, I decided to do a few tests to see which sorts of acrylic paint worked best and also to see how much wash out there was if I used them on poly cotton.

I used Golden thick bodied acrylic, Golden fluid acrylics and some Daler Rowney FW acrylic inks that I had.  I painted each one on some thick cotton duck (canvas), some fairly coarse cotton fabric and some not all that thick polycotton.   I painted two of each and washed one of the pair to see how much washout there was.

Here are the results.  The ones on the left of each photo are the washed versions and the ones on the right, the unwashed.

Heavy acrylic paint on the canvas:

acrylic paint on fabric

Heavy acrylic paint on the cotton fabric:

acrylic paint on fabric

Heavy acrylic on polycotton:

acrylic paint on fabric

Acrylic ink on canvas:

acrylic paint on fabric

Acrylic ink on cotton:

acrylic paint on fabric

Acrylic ink on poly cotton:

acrylic paint on fabric

Fluid acrylic on canvas:

acrylic paint on fabric

Fluid acrylic on cotton:

acrylic paint on fabric

And finally, fluid acrylic on poly cotton:

acrylic paint on fabric

This experiment wasn’t at all scientific but it was interesting to me, especially to find that acrylics seem to be fine to use on poly cotton (next time I’ll have a go with 100% polyester) and the fluid acrylics are best of all for painting on fabric, predictably because they contain less binder and more pigment.

The little sample book, by the way, is another that I made with the Bind it All.

Finding Your Visual Language course

I have tried to write about my week at Committed to Cloth a couple of times and just ended up with a confused tangle of impressions, ideas and happenings.    So here we go again…

Before the week started, Claire sent us a list of questions to answer and send to them in advance, and this in itself was a valuable exercise.  They were things like, what do you want to commit to in the coming months, what do you need to do to realise this and how can we help?    I think the key word for me both before and during the week, was focus.  To choose one thing and focus on it, and get rid of all the extraneous things; be willing to chuck anything that isn’t working and stop fluttering like a butterfly on to any and everything textile related, the latest technique, the latest ‘must have’ item.   I think that ever since City & Guilds, when you get to try lots of different techniques and samples, I’ve been a ‘butterfly’, hopping on to one craze and then the next without getting deeper and trying to make my own path through one thing, ignoring all the rest.

So during that week I decided that what I really love is to colour the fabric, and that the stitching bit isn’t really important to me; often I would dye cloth or paint it and then feel I had to make it into something, and stitch it, and then it got put into a pile and never used.  So I decided that I’d concentrate on wholecloth work.    Hence my destashing over the last few weeks.  (There are still about 8 fabric bundles left, by the way, plug, plug!!)  I freecycled a load of stuff, chucked out or rehoused another load (what hordes of rubbish I was collecting in there in the hope that it would come in useful one day….), rearranged my studio and moved the tables around to make it easier to paint and print large pieces of cloth.  I did hope that I might be able to have a sink put in there but that looks as though it might be too impractical.  But already it feels more workable and I’ve been getting down to a piece of work that I started sampling on the course.

Claire and Leslie were great during the week – there were only 5 of us on the course and so we were able to have lots of one to one time with them.  Over the last year I have been trying to work on a series about the local river and I had already come to the conclusion that I was trying to do too much in each piece and so got bored and come unstuck.  They helped me see that I had to be a lot more specific – FOCUS again! – so I decided that I would take the theme of reeds and develop design material round that during the week.   Claire advised me to do a writing exercise to help put into words exactly what I wanted to say in a particular piece and so I was able to do mark making around those words and feelings.    Here are some of the designs which came out of that:

designs at c2c 

When I’d done a lot of design work, with Claire and Leslie’s help I picked out several which seemed to work best with the words and thoughts about what I was trying to achieve, and then we used acetates to see how these would work when layered.  After that I worked on a sample of cloth to see how these would turn out in colour.  Here is the result (though the photo isn’t very faithful to the colours and there are some random shadows which aren’t there in the original!).

reeds sample

I’m in the process of making this into a large wall piece and the great thing is that I have a load of design material and ideas to develop other pieces in a series on reeds.     And, more importantly, I learnt to see how to get from doing a load of design stuff to actually translating it into fabric without being too literal.  I made the above sample with fabric paints using a stamp cut from a rubber, a credit card, a scrubbing brush and a piece of laminated plastic!

Through the week, as well as working on our own designs (and every one of us worked on very different things), we got together and Claire and Leslie taught us about the elements of design, what you have to have in a design to make it work and how to critique our own pieces of work to help us ascertain why they were or weren’t working.   And lots of other discussion about methods of working, ways of framing or finishing pieces of work – and yummy lunches and endless cups of tea and coffee in the process!   The course took place in Claire’s wonderful house and an important part of the atmosphere was the beauty all around.   It was a wonderful week and a pivotal one, for me, I think.  Time will tell on that last point.

Painting with ochres and soy milk

A few months ago I bought some natural ochres from Clearwell Caves, some old coppermines in the Forest of Dean.  I also had some natural dye extracts, so I decided to do some painting with them, using soy milk as a binder.   I had fun and just played without thinking too much.  And here are the results.

ochre painted fabric in studio

Here they are drying in my workroom.  That old clothes horse I found while tidying the boxroom came in useful!  (So obviously tidying does have its benefits…

ochre painted fabric

This is the first I did.  It’s roughly based on one of my doodles.

tree ochre painted

Here’s a sort of stylized tree.

ochre painted rusted fabric 

I painted this to enhance some rust dyed fabric.

ochre painted fabric

A lot of what I was painted was for textures, to print on or to cut up and use for journals.   I thought of printing one of my Gocco house screens on top of this.

ochre painted fabric

This is a sort of brick texture.  I printed it using the tip of a sponge brush.

overpainted blue fabric with ochres

This was overpainted on to some blue fabric.

ochre painted textural fabric

And this was another ‘texture’ painting.  The fabric is quite shiny and it looks quite effective.

Now I have to leave them for a few months to batch, so the colours don’t just wash out.  So no guilt about not using them! 

Fun with transfer printing 2 – the finished fabric!

Sorry about the delay in posting the second part of this post.  I had to do a bit of photo editing in Picasa to make the colours more realistic.  For some reason, every time I tried to photograph them they just looked faded and washed out – maybe the synthetic fabrics reflect the light back in some way so the colours don’t come out true.  Or something like that.

I was able to use each piece of transfer painted paper about three times, getting progressively fainter.  I still haven’t printed all the papers as I got diverted by some natural dyeing and printing (those photos are to come!) but here are the ones I have done.  I used a variety of fabrics – some synthetic napkins, lutradur, Evolon (a thin sythetic fabric that feels a bit like very soft felt) and polyester organza.

transfer printed Evolon

This is the piece of Evolon, with a variety of the papers printed on it.  Here are a few close ups:

transfer printed fabric with screenprinted paper

This is the paper with the printed thermofax screen.

transfer printed fabric

This was one of the papers made using the fabric crayons.

lego rubbing, transfer painted fabric

This one had a rubbing over a Lego layout plate and another rubbing over the circles stencil and a wash of dilute transfer paint over that.

transfer painted fabric

This is the rubbing over the plastic grid.

transfer painted fabric

Another screenprinted one.  I ironed the paper twice, once at a 90 degree angle to the other.

transfer printed lutradur

This is the lutradur printed with the paper rubbed over the letterpress type.  This could be layered over something as the lutradur is quite translucent.

Those seem to be the only ones I’ve done so far.  More to come!  But first, lots of natural dyed or painted stuff…