10 August 2016

Solar-Powered Fabric Design

I recently tried Jacquard Solarfast sunlight-developed dye for the first time, and after I published an image of the results on Instagram, I had a few questions about the process, so I thought I'd write a blog post about what I did.

Solarfast is a light-sensitive dye, which means that the colour develops when it is exposed to UV-light. You paint the dye onto fabric or paper, add some kind of resist that will block the light in certain areas, and then place it all in a sunny spot for about 10 minutes. During this time the exposed areas will react to the light and the colour will develop, whereas the areas in shadow will remain more or less unchanged, depending on how solid the resist is.

You could use objects and plants as resists, but I was interested in my own patterns and only used transparencies as resists. On one transparency I made a printout of one of my drawings with an inkjet printer - or in fact I made two printouts that I combined to make the dark areas more dense. The original drawing was a scanned line drawing, but I filled it with the bucket fill tool in my image-editing software.

On another transparency I drew a pattern with a black Posca paint pen. I'm sure other brands would work as well, but it is important that the ink is very solid, otherwise light will go through it.

On the last transparency I painted the same pattern but with black gesso and a brush.

According to the manufacturers instructions the dye has to be wet in order to work, but if it is too wet under a transparency there's a risk that condensation will form and interfere with the process. This is exactly what happened with my prints. Since I hadn't used the dye before it was impossible to know what is too wet, so I didn't worry too much about this. While developing the prints I could see condensation forming under the film, and how it would block the light in certain areas. But I could also see that this would not be a big issue for me, because the result was a beautiful mottled effect in a rusty brown colour. If you look closely at the images of the prints you will see brown (not fully developed) areas mixed in with the black (fully developed) areas. This is the result of condensation under the film. Here are the prints alongside the resists:

I really liked this process: it is simple, quick and has a lot of potential. Just imagine what you could do with photographs and scanned images of your own writing and drawings! The dye is ready to use (no more mixing toxic powders) and it comes in several different colours. I'm pretty sure this is a product I will return to again, because there is so much more to explore!

Thanks for visiting my blog and have fun printing in the sun!

30 April 2016

Happy Walpurgis Night!

Here in Scandinavia we celebrate Walpurgis Night the day before May Day, and balloons are part of the celebration. I found some balloons in my stash and had the idea that perhaps I could doodle or paint on them. It was quite addictive and a lot of fun, and I couldn't stop after the first trial, so I ended up decorating them all in different ways. Here's the result:

I started with a mandala pattern with a thick marker pen.

Since the marker worked so well, I felt braver and tried a Posca paint pen next.

Then I did an allover pattern just in paint pen.

I started thinking about other media that might work on rubber and figured it was time to try alcohol markers and the Tim Holtz Spritzer Tool I recently invested in. I used a crocheted doily as a stencil.

And from alcohol markers it was only a short step to turn to solvent ink. I used a soft foam stamp and Staz On ink for this balloon.

Finally I thought about paint, and decided to try watered down gesso. That worked as well!

Here are the tools and media I used to decorate my balloons:

Pretty fun right? Now go forth my friend and decorate some balloons of your own! Thanks for visiting my blog and Happy Spring!

21 April 2016

May I present: Franka!

It's so satisfying to occasionally finish something from the UFO-pile. Those UnFinished Objects that for some reason always get pushed down to the bottom of the To Do-list by other projects or chores that seem more urgent. A quilt with the comic album heroine Franka has been one of those projects. I started it in 2011 and worked on it off and on for a while, but for some reason it ended up in the UFO-department. Just over a month ago I found it and decided to finish it this time.

If you want to have a look at the earlier blog posts about Franka, you can either click on the label Franka in the list to the right, or, if you prefer to see the entries one by one in chronological order from the first to the last, you can follow these links:

The story behind the Franka quilt

To be honest, I think this task might have been the one that put me off Franka at the time. I knew it would be a challenge to cut out the letters in the thought bubble, and to keep track of all the little bits that I had to save for the inside of the letters!

Another thing that worried me was the questions of how I should quilt it. Originally I had planned to quilt the background water in some way, but the more I thought about it, the more I hesitated. This is fused appliqué with a black fabric behind a very light fabric, so any mistakes would most likely result in tiny black holes/dots where the needle had penetrated the fabric. I was not willing to take that risk.

The solution was to only pin the quilt within the black outlines, and also to quilt it along the black edges. This means that the quilting doesn't really show from the front, and also that the fused appliqué is not stitched at all, only fused. This was another concern until I reached the conclusion that this is an art quilt, meant to only hang on a wall and perhaps never to be washed. The fusible web is a strong glue and it will hold everything securely in place for this purpose. Having reached this insight I was at peace and felt that I could finally finish my work.

There were a lot of thread ends to knot off as neatly as possible...

because the secret quilting is revealed on the back of the quilt:

I chose a facing as finishing method

And here she is: Franka!
Oh - It's even nicer than I thought... 

And here she is alongside with the original inspiration: a comics album heroine from the 1970's, drawn by Dutch artist Henk Kuijpers.

Thanks for visiting my blog!