I started the day thinking about grocery bags. Specifically, that some of my bags need to be replaced and I should get my act together and make some.
Then, I had an idea. Maybe, I could print some images onto fabric to be stitched to the sides of the bags - tart them up a bit and also subtle marketing for my work. Last time, when I printed on fabric with my ink jet printer, it worked okay but the colour faded a bit too much when washed.
Anyway, I thought I would give it another go. I have a different printer using slightly different dye ink (longer lasting ink) although I didn't expect that to make much of a difference.
The last time, I adhered a piece of calico to lightweight card stock with spray adhesive. The calico stuck down smoothly without any wrinkling. It went through the printer without any bother and the resulting print of a photo of an old truck was lovely. The card stock separated easily and then I washed the fabric to see how much colour it retained. I was disappointed with the dullness of the print after washing. It is still usable but a bit more residual colour would have been better.
This time, I had no spray adhesive nor freezer paper or any normal stuff to aid printing directly onto fabric. I did have some transfer photo paper but I wasn't interested in doing transfers. Given the lack of normal supplies, I wondered what else I could use to attach the fabric to the paper so that it would be firm enough to go through the printer. I found some Clag Paste (who knows how old) and some Clag Clear Gum (also age unknown) and figured that either one would probably be suitable to enable parting of the paper and fabric after printing.
The Clear Gum was chosen because I thought I might be able to use just a little to make the paper tacky enough for the fabric to stick. ordinary lightweight paper was used this time instead of card stock. I was a bit lazy and couldn't be bothered looking for some lightweight card stock in my paper supply. A thin layer of the glue was all that was needed however, I couldn't get the fabric and paper stuck together without buckling (should have looked for the card stock). I smoothed it as best I could and made sure the leading edge (going into the printer) was well stuck and very even. The fabric was trimmed close to the paper's edges.
In the hope of retaining more colour, I coated the fabric with Golden Digital Ground for Non-Porous Surfaces. I had my doubts that it would be any use for stabilising the colour. It is designed to enhance the ink jet print quality on non-porous surfaces although it does state that it is suitable for absorbent surfaces. There is no suggestion that it stops colour from washing out in water.
Still, I thought it was worth a try and I duly gave the fabric a couple of coats. Once glue and digital ground were dry (with the help of a hairdryer), I pressed the wrinkling down as much as I could and then found a couple of images to print.
The first image I printed was of a pastel artwork of waterlilies (from years ago). The fabric/paper combination went through the printer without any problems despite the wrinkles. A recent painting was used for the second image - Little Annan Gorge (Nth Qld). Again, no problems to print though this piece was more wrinkled than the first. Due to the buckling some dark smudging occurred in places but I didn't think it would be anything to be concerned about.
I washed the Little Annan Gorge print first after removing some, but not all, of the paper. Vinegar was added to cold water (at least I thought it was cold) to help stabilise the colours. Actually, the water was warm from the outside pipes being exposed to the sun. I didn't discover the water was warm until I put the fabric into it. The rest of the paper came away easily in the water and so did a fair (that should read 'unfair') amount of dye ink.
The waterlily print was treated differently. First, I ironed it for a couple of minutes in the hope of heat setting the dye ink. Then I made sure the water and vinegar was actually cold before immersing the fabric/remaining paper. The paper was more difficult to remove - probably because the water was cold. While some dye was lost, it wasn't as much as lost from the Little Annan Gorge print or as much as the old truck print lost.
Both were tossed into the dryer and once dry they were ironed. They are usable although they have a definite aged and faded quality which is kind of cute for the old truck but less so for the waterlilies and landscape. They will only be going onto grocery bags so it is not a big issue.
Next time I decide to print onto fabric, I will make sure I have a product that helps fix the dye - either a commercial product or one that I can make myself with alum - assuming I can still get alum. Last time I bought alum I had a bit of trouble sourcing it.
Regardless of the results, it is always fun to experiment.
Until next time
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I have had a lifetime passion for drawing and painting. Realistic with an impressionistic touch is an apt description for my work.
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