The Learning Curve of Contact Printing

A little explanation of terms is probably in order.  So far, I’ve mostly used cotton, which requires some special treatment before you dye or print with natural materials.  A mordant is a substance that fixes or influences the color that is imparted onto the fabric. Without which, you won’t get any color to remain on the fabric.  It can also brighten or dull your colors and helps to make it lightfast.  It may also give the cloth some color of its own.  Although many factors influence the process of color take up, we’re going to keep it simple here, as I am while I learn.  Before we move into the particulars of this batch, it is an over-dye of a previously failed print.  However, I like the depth it gives to the piece.

The first 2 pictures are different sections of the same piece of fabric which went through a couple of stages.  First,I mordanted with alum, soda ash and soymilk.  I’ve also used a tannin, which are also fixatives and help to increase colorfastness. Here, I used acorn milk.  I made the soymilk and the acorn milk from scratch. Before setting it up I sprayed it with water and after composing the leaf arrangement, I covered it with an “iron water blanket” which is another piece of cloth that I dipped in rusty water and wrung out before covering the fabric I just layed out. To bundle, I rolled it up on a birch log and tied it up with twine. I  then stashed it in the freezer until I was ready to put it in a pot. I simmered it in a pot for about 2 and a half hours and let it cool down before removing it from the pot and placing it aside for a couple of days.

3496 3502


Mordanted with alum/soymilk/alum. Quick dip on iron water before laying out:3505 Mordanted with alum/soymilk/alum. Sprayed with vinegar/water after set up:3512

I’m still learning about what to mordant with which  so don’t think there’s anything fixed here about my methods.  I’m experimenting to see what works best for me.  I do love the Printing Nature FB group where I learn a lot  of what I know so far.

Check out what’s happening on Nina Marie’s!

Sun Prints With Screen Print Ink

Warm and sunny again, although the sun kept ducking in and out later in the day just to make the timing a bit tricky.  In this batch I used screen print ink mixed with a little Golden GAC 900 as an extender and some water.

SPI 1.pleat.salt.web
I pleated this loosely and sprinkled some salt over it.
SPI2. pleat.salt.web
Pleated a little tighter but still no tying and salted.
SPI3 web
I used a real, dried piece of sea kelp of some sort for this one that laid flat in the middle but not so much on the outer edges.
Starting out looslely painting screen print ink, I then placed a used, and therefore dark colored, transparent stencil over this piece.
Screen Print Ink 5 web
Over an already sunprinted piece that was pleated and used salt for texture, I “nature printed” over it using fabric paint.
First I applied screen print ink and scrunched it up for the sun print. Then I overprinted with screen print ink applied with a brush on the leaves and pressed into the fabric.

There have been some excellent posts on one of my favorite blogs on this subject you might want to check out if you haven’t already: