Last week, I discussed my exploration with inkjet printing onto fabric using what I had at hand. The results weren't very successful as a large amount of inkjet, dye ink bled out in the wash. I was left with faded excuses for prints.
When it comes to my artwork, I don't give up easily. I was determined to resurrect the prints so that I could use them for their intended purposes - decorative features on grocery bags.
Yesterday evening, I decided to start tackling the issue. I chose the waterlily print as the guinea pig. A quick Google search gave me a couple of options for adding waterproof colour to the prints using stuff from my studio. One option was oil sticks and another was Derwent Inktense pencils. Derwent Inktense pencils won the day, as work done with the oil sticks would need to be left to dry for several days. I was too impatient for that (shall try them another time).
I started by working on the dry, fabric print, scribbling colour over the lilies and lily pads. Using a soft brush and the gel from a fresh leaf of aloe vera from my garden, I moistened, spread and pushed the colour into the fabric. One of the Google results had suggested aloe vera gel as a medium to keep colour contained to the desired area. It is difficult to control colour bleed when using water.
Then, I wet an area with the aloe vera gel and scribbled into it with the pencils followed by using the brush to spread the colour and push it into the fabric. Did I mention my issue with impatience? Well, working with aloe vera gel was proving too slow for me so I started using water instead.
I reckoned the original pastel artwork, that the print was based on, was impressionistic (see last blog post) so it wouldn't matter if there was some colour bleed. That was as long as I was careful not to get hard edges of colour where wet met dry without further bleeding. Occasionally, I reworked an area to rescue it from a hard edge or excessive bleed. Everything progressed okay.
After the first tentative experiment with the lilies and lily pads, I dried the fabric and scanned it as a record of that step.
Left: Re-wetting a hard edge 'bleed'. Right: Re-working with Inktense pencil after re-wetting then brushed over again.
By the way, I'm not left handed. It was easier to use the camera in my right hand and do the mark making with my left hand. I can write and draw with my left hand, thankfully, as the camera controls are not set up for left handed use.
Left: The faded print Right: First layer of Derwent Inktense pencils
Then, I started getting more colour onto the lilies and lily pads on the left side, wetting areas as I proceeded. The colour built up nicely. I dried the fabric again and scanned it to record the difference between the sides - the left side with the extra colour and the right side with the first light layer of colour.
The right side was coloured next and then I went back to the left side to build up the background colours. I left the background on the right side and dried and re-scanned the print to show the differences once again.
Back at it again and the background on the right side was coloured. At this point, I worked back and forward over the entire print strengthening areas as needed until I was satisfied. The print was dried again, ironed to heat set and then scanned - probably didn't need to heat set it as I had been using a hair dryer on the hot setting to dry the fabric between each application.
The next task was to wash the print and check that the colour remained true. I threw it in the clothes drier to dry it and then re-ironed it.
I was happy with the result. There was hardly any colour loss, however I felt that some fine black line work would give the print an extra lift. A 0.1 Uni Pin fine liner with water and fade proof, pigment ink was used to give the finishing touch. And, yes, I did a quick test first to check that it was indeed waterproof on fabric. I'd been caught before with a not quite 'waterproof' pen . It was all good, though.
Now that I was satisfied with the waterlily print, I decided to get the grocery bag made - no procrastination allowed. I grabbed an old IGA bag to copy the size and style and dug up some suitable, colour co-ordinated, heavy, curtain fabric from my stash. The bag was cut out quickly and soon stitched together including the waterlily print as a feature pocket. I popped a plastic base (from an IGA bag) into it and it was ready for its photo shoot. Suitable, sturdy material will be sourced for future base inserts.
I just need to re-work the other prints (the old truck print won't need much) and sew them onto bags and I will have a lovely set of grocery bags of which to be proud.
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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