Sun Printing: Textile Paint & Screen Printing Ink

This is an article I posted on the Fire blog in June. I thought I’d repeat it here in case some of you did not see it and are interested in my experiments with sun printing.

I’ve done quite a bit of sun printing and am partial to a couple products (Setacolor Transparent and Dye-na-flow). But I wanted to try comparing two different products,  a good fabric paint and screen printing ink. I was pretty surprised at the results.

I decided to paint both pieces of fabric with similar colors and fern placement so that I could get a good comparison.

So let’s get started. After covering my work surface with plastic, I mixed up my paints – one set of Jacquard Textile Paint and the other Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink. You can use the paints full strength for a real dark color, but I mixed them a little with water. How much water is up to you. I’ve mixed them half and half and various combinations. For starters I’d recommend 1 part paint to eight parts water.

mixed paints for sun printing

While I was mixing the paints, my fabric has been sitting in water. It’s important that the fabric stay moist. Once the paints were ready, I squeezed my fabric to get most of the water out of it, and spread it on my table smoothing it to get out the wrinkles.

smoothing out fabricOnce I was happy with my fabric, it was time to start painting. I use sponge brushes for this. If you are painting in the sun you need to work fast so the paint doesn’t dry. However, I keep a spray bottle with water nearby to keep the fabric moist.

After I’m happy with the painting job, I add masks. These can be botanicals, stencils, lace, wood cutouts, or whatever you’d like to use to make a design on this fabric.  (I’ve tried using plastic ferns and they don’t work. First of all, they won’t lay flat on the fabric. I tried putting a piece of glass over them to keep them down and that did not work at all!!) Whatever you are using as a mask needs to be able to be flat on the fabric so it blocks out the sun.

As I put my ferns down, I use a little more paint to help them adhere to the fabric.

Adding paint to the fernAfter I’m done with the placement of the masks,  I check to see that the ferns are flat on the fabric.  I usually help that process with with a little spray from my water bottle. If the ferns or whatever you are using aren’t flush against the fabric, you won’t get a really clean print.

screenprintingink4Once I’m happy with my design,  it’s time for the sun to do it’s thing.

sun printing fabric in the sunNow is the hardest part – waiting for the fabric to dry!

Here are the results. This is the piece using the textile paint.

sun printed using textile paint

And the fabric using screen printing ink.

sun printing with screen printing ink


I discovered from this experiment that regular textile paint just doesn’t do a very good sun printing job. I know other artists would disagree with me, but I just haven’t gotten good results with those paints. In addition to the colors not being as bright as the screen printing inks, the fern images were not as crisp. On the orange, the fern image can barely be seen.

There was a little problem with the ferns on both pieces due to how rigid the ferns were. That may be due to the plant I used or the time of the year, but they still looked much better on the screen printing ink piece.

The screen printing ink fabric was bright, images were pretty good, but as with the textile paint, the hand of the fabric really changed. Both of them were stiff and kind of rubbery feeling.

I was surprised because I had no idea how the screen printing ink would work. In a pinch it would be okay, and much better than the textile paint. It would make good journal covers or even wall hangings although it might be hard to stitch through.

However, in my opinion, if I want sun printed fabric to use in a garment or anything I’d need to sew, I’d use Pebeo SetaColor Transparent Paint or Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow.

This is a piece of sun printed fabric I did last summer using SetaColor.

sun printed fabric using setacolors
If you have any interest in this technique, try it. You will love how it turns out.
And if you are in this area, I am teaching a Sun Printing class on Thursday, July 31 from 10 am to 2 pm at Studio 4905 in Henderson, Kentucky. Rain date is Thursday, August 7. For more information, call Sherry Wilkerson at 270-869-4469 or contact her via her Facebook page.
Posted in crafts, fabric, Fabric paint, sun printing, surface design, tutorials | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Sunday July Roundup

Good Morning all!

It’s another lovely day here and I thought I’d post a little Sunday roundup.

One of the big things I did this past week was clean out the front part of the garage which I use as my dye studio. I’m excited that it’s organized finally!

dye studioI’ve been working on make some journals from fabric my friend Donna gave me a couple years ago. These are the first ones, but all of these will be donated to a Chemo Buddies, a local organization.

journal covers

I won a set of Artistcellar stencils from a recent blog hop of Lynn Krawczyk’s new series called Marked. I can’t wait to play with them!

artistcellar stencils

I love to support local artists. I bought this lovely pendant from Anita. I’ve known Anita for many years, but have just recently reconnected with her. Her business is called Nee Nee Ree Beads and you can keep up with what she’s doing on her Facebook page. Her polymer clay creations are beautiful.

Anita's pendant

I’ve also been working a bit on a piece of color magnet fabric I made awhile back. Yesterday I added some fabric paint. Not sure where it’s going or when it’s going to be done.

fabric over printed

I’ve been continuing to pick blueberries every day and freezing those from the day before that we didn’t eat. But I do see the end coming soon.

Last of the blueberries

The asparagus patch is looking so pretty now.

asparagus patch

Even part of the slope garden is looking good.

slope garden

I love these Becky daisies. I’ve split them and they are not just in the back, but also in our front beds.

Becky daisies

That’s all for now. Thanks for dropping by and have a wonderful, creative week.

Posted in gardening, stencils, Sunday Roundup | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Folding and Clamping: Itajime

I’ve really enjoyed trying some new (to me) techniques with my dyeing. Itajime, a shibori technique, involves folding fabric and then sandwiching it between two pieces of wood or other material and holding the shapes with clamps.

Itajime fabric

My Itajime pices

I bought these plexiglass pieces for this technique. You can get your own set from this Rossie’s etsy shop where she has lots of different sizes and shapes.

itajime shapes

There are lots of ways to fold the fabric. I wanted to try the equilateral triangles. Fabric is folded in half lengthwise, then folded again, and then fan folded into triangles. After folding, I clamped them with bulldog clamps. Since I didn’t have enough for all of my pieces, I used string to secure the last one.

itajime Now to dye them. You can soak the pieces in the soda ash solution before you add the dye. You can also soak them in water, add the dye, and then add soda ash. The other option is to dye them with the fabric dry and then add soda ash. The last option is not a good one. It was hard to add the dye to dry fabric. I did that with two of the four pieces and I won’t be doing that again.  I added dye with pipettes until I was happy with the colors. Here they are sitting in the sun.


I let these batch for 24 hours since I was too busy to wash them out earlier. Here are the original folded pieces and my results.



itijami fabric







That was fun. My favorite is the second one. Which one do you like best? Thanks for dropping by.

Posted in art, fabric, Fabric Resists, fiber reactive dyes, Shibori - Itajime, tutorials | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Preserving Botanicals

I really love to sun print, but I don’t like waiting for the ferns to be ready for my projects. I’ll be prepared next Spring and even now when I want to print and don’t want to take the time to forage through the garden. They are all waiting for me because I’ve preserved them!

Several years ago I tried preserving botanicals, but didn’t have much luck. I can’t even remember what I was doing, but it didn’t work. Enter Sun Andrus, who was a guest blogger for me during our sun printing month on the Fire blog in June. She blogged all about how she preserves her plants for sun printing.

So let’s get started. After selecting the plants you’d like to preserve, make of the solution. You will need hot water and glycerin. I ended up ordering glycerin online since the local pharmacies didn’t carry it anymore. However, I found later that I could have purchased it at our local health food store.

Grab a container that will hold your botanicals. I chose a large one because I needed a lot of room for the ferns.

The formula is one part glycerin to two parts hot water. Pour hot water into your container. Then add the glycerin and mix.

Add your botanicals, one by one, making sure they are covered on both sides by the solution.

Place botancial in solution

When you have finished adding your plants, you need to put something on top of them to hold them down in the solution. I used a smaller container.


Since this container will just float on top, I weighed it down with a couple of landscape bricks.

Adding bricks to hold down container

Leave this alone for several days, giving the solution time to soak into the botanicals.

Then remove them carefully and place on paper towels to dry.

putting fern on paper towelContinue to stack them and then cover the last one with a paper towel.

adding last paper towelNow at this point, Sue said you can just wipe them off and use them. I didn’t have time to use them, so I just let them sit in my dye studio and dry.

Yesterday I stacked all of the ferns and leaves with their paper towels into a container with a lid. Here is a look at one of the ferns.

preserved fernSo beautiful! The solution can be used over and over again too, so I put a lid on it and will be soaking some more plants soon.

I’m anxious to play with these ferns, which according to Sue,  can be used over and over. Pretty neat! Have you ever tried this?

Posted in art, preserving botanicals, sun printing | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Another Round of Indigo Dyeing

I got out my Indigo dye pot the other day and had another round of indigo dyeing.

Indigo dyeing pieces

They came out lovely and I just had to show them to you. This first one is scrunching from left to right.

scrunchingThen the swirl.


This is an offset swirl.

indigooffsetswirlAnd the last one – looks like a sun.


Indigo dyeing is so easy, fun and absolutely beautiful! I will be teaching an Indigo Dyeing class at Studio 4905 in Henderson, Kentucky on Thursday, August 21 from 10 am – 3 pm. It will be a fun class. If you are in the area and want to join us, contact Sherry Wilkerson at 270-869-4469 or on her Facebook page here.

Posted in art, dyeing, fabric, indigo dyeing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Sun Shibori and more

It was so much fun to get out and sun print this past weekend. I’ve done a lot of sun printing with botanicals, but this time I wanted to try a shibori technique. My friend, Lisa Chin, demonstrated this on her webinar, Creating Prayer Flags with Sun Shibori and Stencils. It’s on sale right now!

I knew about using shibori techniques in sun printing, but never tried it. If you aren’t familiar with shibori, it is a Japanese technique for ways of shaping cloth and securing it before it’s dyed.

I took two pieces of fabric and added glass pebbles under the fabric and secured them with rubber bands. Here they are after being painted and put in the sun. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of them before, although you can find a picture here. The red spots on the fabric are the rubber bands.

Sun Shibori

Dye-Na-Flow on left; Setacolor Transparent on right

I was testing side-by-side these two paints for sun printing. I really like both and wanted to do a real test so I could make up my mind which I wanted to use in a sun printing class I’ll be teaching this month at Studio 4905 in Henderson, Kentucky. More about that later.

I used the same color, Violet, on both pieces and here are the results.

Sun shibori test

Dye-na-Flow on the left; Setacolor Transparent on the right

I really liked both of them, but the Dye-na-Flow piece went almost all the way back to white where it was tied. But the other piece I also like! I thought the test would convince me to quit using one or the other for sun printing, but it didn’t.

Besides sun shibori I compared the paints using a regular dyeing technique called scrunching. I absolutely love all of the texture in these pieces.

Sun printed scrunch test

Dye-na-Flow on the left; Setacolor on the right

Some of the texture comes from sprinkling salt on the fabric before the paint was dry.

Sun test dye-na-flow



closeup sun test setacolor


Then I went back to just playing with botanicals using Dye-na-Flow.

On this piece I put fives blades of maiden grass, asparagus ferns, Becky daisies, and Hydrangea flowers. I also sprinkled salt in different places on the fabric.

botanicals for sun printing

I let it set in the sun until it was dry.

I love seeing how the masks block out the sun resulting in a great pattern. On this one, I have a nice image of the daisy.

Checking out the sun printing

The finished piece

botanical sun print

I can see this piece quilted. Now about the class, if you are in this area, I’ll be teaching a class on sun printing on Thursday, July 31 from 10 am to 2 pm at Studio 4905 in Henderson, Kentucky. Rain date is Thursday August 7. For more information, call Sherry Wilkerson at 270-869-4469 or contact her via her Facebook page. It’s going to be fun!!




Posted in fabric, Fabric paint, shibori, sun printing, surface design | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Printed Fabric Bee Giveaway #8

It’s time for the Printed Fabric Bee Giveaway!

Susan Purney Mark was the queen bee this past month and she chose Industrial as her topic. I really loved this challenge.

Industrial to me means lots of buildings, so I cut a stencil that looked like steel beams.

steel beam stencil

Then I used Jacquard Color Magnet with my stencil.  Once it was dry I dyed the pieces with Brushed Steel, one of my favorite fiber reactive dye. I love how this color breaks out into it’s colors when it’s scrunched and left alone.

Here is Susan’s piece.

Printed Fabric Bee Industrial PieceAnd the 6 x 6 inch piece I made for the giveaway.

Industrial giveaway piece

And here is the collection.

Giveaway #8

If you’d love to win this collection, just visit The Printed Fabric Bee or Susan’s blog and leave a comment. Deadline is July 10.  Good Luck!

Posted in Giveaway, Jacquard Color Magnet, stencils, surface design, The Printed Fabric Bee | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Sewing Bags and More

Before I get to the bags, I’ve been doing a lot of gardening. Harvesting blueberries every day is a such a meditative time for me. If I get up early enough, the dogs in the area are still asleep and it’s so quiet. Dave caught me out there harvesting the other day. I wear white to keep me cooler, but the long pants helps to keep the bugs away.

blueberry harvesting

So far I’ve harvested almost 15 pounds. What we don’t eat we freeze, so I am freezing every day also.


I showed you a picture of me picking cherries at a local orchard in the last post. Here are just some of the cherries getting a nice bath before they were frozen. Dave wrote a blog post all about how to process and freeze cherries here.

Cherries in sink

We also got our bees which was so exciting. We’ve already checked on them once and they appear to like their new home.

Dave installing our new bees

Dave installing our new bees

Then last week I attended a batik class at Studio 4950 in Henderson, Kentucky. I’ve played with wax – soy wax – but in this class we worked with batik wax, a combination of beeswax and paraffin. It works pretty much the same, but I think it’s  harder to get out of the fabric. I was amazed at all of the beautiful fabric that was created.


Jo, our teacher, at the ironing table


Fellow students apply wax


Sherry, owner of Studio 4950, talks to a student.

 I wasn’t real impressed with my pieces, but enjoyed the fun.

my batik

my batik piece

I have been sewing bags since my last sewing post.

Here is my first cosmetic bag. The outside fabric was made with an oatmeal resist. Here is my tutorial on that. I wasn’t real happy with the finished results, so I fan folded and overdyed it here.

Cosmetic bagThe inside is a piece of my soy wax batik fabric.


I also made another one of those zip bags. The outside is one of my favorite pieces of color magnet fabric.

zip bag front back of zip bagThe lining fabric is another piece of color magnet fabric.

bluezip3I’m finally happy with my sewing of this little bag. I guess practice really makes perfect, or at least almost perfect.

What’s up next here? Well, after I finished the Printed Fabric Bee piece for Susan which I’ll post about in the next couple of days, I decided it’s again time to reorganized and clean my studio. It’s gotten way out of control (again!). It’s funny how I’m happy with the area and then I get to that point where I feel crowded and closed in and ready throw all of it away! I’d love to hear how you keep your studio under control. Do you have a system to keep it organized as you finish projects or do you, like me, wait until it’s overwhelming? I’d love to hear your tips. Thanks.

I’m off to harvest those blue berries. Have a creative day!

Posted in art classes, fabric, gardening, Jacquard Color Magnet, Sewing, soy wax, surface design, wax | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Photography Scavenger Hunt: First Photos

I mentioned last week that I’ve joined Rinda’s Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt. If you would like more information, check out her post here.

Here is the list and I’m marking them off:

1. A sign welcoming people to your home town (or a nearby town)
2. A garden gnome
3. Birds on a wire
4. A group of tourists
5. A rack of post cards
6. An urban street scene
7. A rural landscape
8. A tattoo on a person
9. A bakery
10. A photo bomb (someone found lurking in the background of photo; the lurker may have intended to disrupt the picture or may be doing it unintentionally, but the background lurker is a surprise to the photographer)
11. A horn
12. A mascot
13. A sunrise
14. A parade
15. A juggler
16. A sign in a language other than English
17. A lamp post
18. A water fall
19. A public garden
20. A bus (not a car, truck, lorry, camper or RV) with a picture painted on its sides.
21. A photograph of you with something representing the season Note: you may not use a substitute for this item.
If you find something on the list too difficult, you may substitute one of the following items for anything on the list, except for Item #21:
Alternative A: A kite, hot air balloon or blimp Alternative B: A bird house

So far I found these

#6 – an urban street scene. This was at the art fair held Sunday, June 1 in downtown Evansville.

street fair

#8 – a tattoo on a person. This was one of the artists selling his paintings at the street fair. There were lots of people with tattoos that day.

artist selling paintings

#8 – a bakery. Starbucks – I know that’s cheating a  bit but it does have bakery stuff there.

Starbucks Bakery

#17 – a lamp post. This is on the main drag of the city where I live.


#21 – A photograph of you with something representing the season – Here I’m cherry picking at a local orchard.

cherry picking

That’s all so far. If you want to join in the fun, check out Rinda’s blog here.

Posted in Photography, Scavenger Hunt | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Dyeing to be surprised

I absolutely love surprises – that is,  “good” or “happy” surprises. It’s like change. I always have loved change as long as I was making the change. But that’s another story. Let’s talk about my latest dyeing session.

Parfait with 3 colorsThis past Saturday I was looking for a specific pink for a project I’m working on. And since I’m working with pure dyes right now (dyes that aren’t made up of other colors) I wanted to mix my dye and see if I could get it. I had four different dye combination. The first two were just the Mixing Red dye with differing amounts of water. I added a little black to the second two thinking I’d get darker colors but the black dye turned it into more of a lilac.

color experiment

Blacks are funny to work with since they are made up of other colors. When you buy them, they will say they have a greenish cast or a bluish cast. Mine evidently had a bluish cast.

If you have ever had the burning desire to understand black dyes,  Johanna, at Magenta Freckle Hand Dyed Fabrics has done a great experiment on 11 blacks dyes. You can check out her post  here.  I sure wish I would have read this before I bought this last black. Anyway, this was one of those surprised I didn’t want. The color is a pretty lilac, but definitely not pink.

Yes, I could buy the pink I’m looking for, but I didn’t want to buy more dye and really have enjoyed mixing my own.

My next surprise was these napkins. If you ever run into me at thrift or second hand stores, I’m always in the linen area looking for cotton napkins to dye. We love using them and I’m always looking for that perfect napkin to add to my collection.

The top napkin is the original colored napkin. It’s kind of a pukey green. I knew I’d throw it in the dye as soon as I could.

napkin experimentThe second napkin I added some of that lilac I had left over from the previous surprise. The bottom napkin I added both the lilac and some lime green that I was also using that day. I love all of the texture. Now I wish I would have dyed all four since I’ll never get those exact colors again!

The last surprise was this parfait with three dye colors. In this previous post I only used one color per layer. For this parfait I used three colors on each layer: Golden Yellow, Turquoise and Brown Rose. Brown Rose is not a pure dye, but I had it on hand and thought I’d like to see how it played with these two other pures.

If you aren’t familiar with parfait dyeing, you scrunch up your first piece of fabric and place it in the bottom of your dye container. (All of the fabric has been soaked in soda ash water.) You then add the dye. I added all three colors. Then you put the next piece of fabric on top of that one and again add the dye. You continue until you place all of the fabric you want to play with. I chose just to use four pieces.

As you add the fabric, you can press down a little to help the dyes mingle. However, be aware that the bottom pieces will be a lot darker and you don’t want to end with mud. After I’ve added all of the layers of fabric and dye, I set the container out in the sun. I usually wait until the next day to wash mine out. If you live in a real warm climate you might not need to wait that long.

So here are my results and it’s a happy surprise! When I took them out of the dye containers and started rinsing them, I thought they were absolutely ugly. I figured the top one was the only one I’d be able to save. After the first rinse they still were real dark. Anyway to make a long story short, when they came out of the dryer, I fell in love with them. In this picture it shows how they were in the container.

Parfait with 3 colorsLet’s look at each individual piece. This is the bottom piece.

bottom fabric

Bottom piece

Closeup of bottom piece

Closeup of bottom piece







top fabric

top fabric

The bottom two pieces are dark, but they still have lots of texture and light. I love surprises and with two out of three “happy” surprises, I’m again a happy dog. What about you? Have you had any surprises lately?

Posted in dyeing, fabric, fiber reactive dyes, surface design | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments