Screenprinting with Natural Dyes

When I had my great fabric decorating spree in January, some of my favourite pieces are those I screenprinted with Gocco screens.  I used natural dye extracts mixed with gum tragacanth as a print paste/binder.

Continuing the series on mud and footprints, I made a screen of these bird prints.  I actually made a tiny stamp from an eraser, printed the back of an envelope with it, and scanned it into the computer.  I then made it bigger and made it into a screen. 

screenprinted fabric, bird prints

A close up:

close up of bird print fabric

I then stuck torn masking tape over an empty screen and printed over the bird prints:

bird prints and mud fabric

bird print and mud fabric

I’ll be interested to see how these turn out when I wash them.  I have to leave them for a few months to batch.  The longer the better, really.  And I don’t plan to use them for a while so they might as well sit there….

This fabric below was printed first with torn corrugated cardboard, then printed with a couple of screens made of brick patterns.

screenprinted fabric with natural dyes

And this one is a screen of a tree, made from a photograph I took on one of my walks:

tree fabric

I printed the same screen with colours getting gradually darker.  I also printed some fabric using the same screen and another screen of a letter.

If you read this in Google Reader or another feed reader, you probably won’t notice that I’ve changed the blog ‘theme’.   I changed to this one because it is very easy to alter the way the page looks and I want to try and incorporate my website into the blog so it all looks the same and I think I can do it with this one without messing too much with the code.  But if you find anything’s not working for you in your particular browser, do let me know and I’ll try and change it.  The header, by the way, is rotating, which means you might see a different picture up there each time you come to the blog!  Fun, eh?!!

Before I finish this post, Judy Nolan from the Etsy Boomers Street Team, of which I’m a member, has written a great blog post about the way different people get ideas for their work and capture them.  She got lots of us to tell her what we all do and how we all go about things!  I think it’s definitely worth reading.  You can find it on the Boomers’ blog here.

Fun with transfer printing 1 – preparing the papers

DH is away in India for 12 days so I’m using the time to do lots of printing and other fun stuff.  As well as keeping track of three teenage sons whose social lives are better than mine!   I have just made up some gum tragacanth, a thickener for using with natural dyes and a gelatin plate for monoprinting so I plan to do some monoprinting, and also some screenprinting in the next few days.  But first, some photos of what I was doing LAST week…

When I was sorting out the fabric for printing, I realised that I had a lot of synthetic (or partially synthetic) fabrics lying around that I couldn’t use for ordinary printing or dyeing.  So I thought I’d do some transfer printing with the disperse dyes that I bought at the Festival of Quilts.  I also have a box of fabric crayons so I did some rubbings with these then painted over them with dilute transfer paints.

Here are some of the objects I used for rubbing:

objects used for rubbing fabric crayons

That plastic grid thing has been very useful for stamping and rubbing.  It came with a kids’ game as part of the packaging, I think.      And the other grid was made by cutting squares of fun foam and glueing it to a piece of card.  The foam wasn’t so effective for rubbing as it wasn’t quite hard enough but it was okay.  And there’s the grill thing from one of those disposable barbecue kits, and a circle stencil.  Here are some of the papers I produced with them:

grid rubbing

This is made with the plastic grid.  I painted it with green transfer paint, quite well diluted.  As you can see, I didn’t worry about getting it very even as I think this adds to the interest.

grid rubbing with transfer crayons

Here is one with a red crayon.  I like the variation in the marks created – I made some of them by rubbing the crayon flat against the paper, and others by using the crayon point – this one has produced more lines than the one above.

rubbing with fabric crayons

This one is produced using the barbecue grill.

rubbing using fabric crayon over lego block

For this one I used one of the boys’ old Lego plates – one of the large ones for creating layouts and things.

rubbing with transfer crayon

This is the circles stencil which I overlapped and repeated randomly.

rubbing with lego

And other Lego rubbing.

rubbing over metal type

This one was made by rubbing over some metal type which I have.  I haven’t yet printed this on to fabric so I’ll be interested to see how it turns out.

As well as the rubbings, I did a few screenprints with a squeegee using a Gocco print.  They came out a bit blurry because the transfer paints were too thin but sometime I want to try mixing them with a thickener and printing them. 

prints using transfer paint and Gocco screen

prints using a squeegee and transfer paint

Next time I’ll post pictures of the fabric these produced.  I used ordinary inkjet paper, by the way, apart from the one above where I used some blank newsprint paper.

Happy New Year – and Bloggers Meet!

Happy New Year to you all!  I don’t know where the last week went, I seem to have been sleeping a lot; we went up to Stoke to see my parents and on Monday,  I had a lovely day because two people who I have known online for several years now came to visit me. 

Sara Lechner from Austria, who blogs at The Fabric of Meditation, was visiting her daughter in North Wales, and she had a three hour train journey to see me!  Wales may be a small place, but it takes a long time to travel from north to south… And Sue Krekorian of The Magic Armchair Traveller came to join us.  We had a lovely time chatting, visiting a local cafe for lunch and wandering round Newport’s shops, chatting again… and having the obligatory photo in my studio!   DS2 kindly obliged and took this photo of the three of us:

bloggers meet up!

While I was trying to upload that photo, Live Writer decided it wanted to upload another one and it’s such a nice one that I decided to let it stay…. This is one of the leaves of my avocado plant.  I thought the veins with the browning edges makes for a very interesting photo:

brown edged avocado leaf

While we were in Stoke we saw this ferris wheel which is in the grounds of Trentham Gardens factory shopping village (I think it’s called something else but since it was Trentham Gardens when I grew up, that is what it will forever be in my mind).  I had my first summer job there, working as a cashier in the open air swimming pool.  Sadly, the said swimming pool was demolished some time ago…

ferris wheel in Trentham Gardens

I thought the centre of it would make a good Gocco screen…. (without Stoke City football club’s sponsorship medallion … or maybe even with it)

centre of ferris wheel in Stoke

I wonder what 2009 will bring?  DH is going to India again later this month so I’m planning to do some gelatine plate monoprinting and some more screenprinting while he’s away.  So look out for lots of fabric photos.    I meant to do a blog post about 2008 and what had happened in it but time somehow flew away from me.    I think I will remember it for the Gocco and for getting involved in Etsy.  And for my two magazine articles in CTDG.    And for those of you who subscribe to Fibre and Stitch, look out for the January issue because I’ve got an article in there too!  Here’s a bit of a teaser…