July 14, 2018

Experiments in SolarFast printing - part 4

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I am continuing with my experiments combining SolarFast solar dyes with DyeNaFlow textile paints, making prints from botanical subjects onto cotton sateen. I started this batch with a reliable subject, a painted fern frond.
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My coneflowers, echinacea, are blooming now so I set up two prints using them. Flowers are trickiest to print from when using long exposures, in my experience, because the petals can wither and shrivel fairly quickly. I kept these two in partial shade to help mitigate that situation.
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I am still working from my remaining stock of red, scarlet and violet SolarFast, combined with various greens and turquoise in the DyeNaFlow. This time around I tried to loosen up further, applying the colors in broad gestural strokes.
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I used a hosta leaf, specifically the August Moon variety, and a plume poppy leaf.
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Going back to that bit of un-weeded garden, I pulled up a length of bindweed and combined it with another plume poppy leaf on a larger 16" x 20" print.
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I let them expose, covered with glass, for around three hours. Temperatures were in the mid 80s F, with about 50% humidity. Here are the exposed, unwashed prints.
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Let me add again that I am ignoring/modifying the instructions for both of these products. If you are new to them, I would recommend learning the rules before bending them.
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The SolarFast produced a lot of good detailing around the flower heads.
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This time I curbed my impatience better, and let the damp prints dry overnight in a dark space.
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I then briefly ironed them on the reverse, to further set the DyeNaFlow, before washing with textile detergent to set the SolarFast.
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As a result there was much less wash-out then the previous batch. Here are the finished prints:
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They are very vivid and colorful.
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There's a nice balance of color integration and fine detail.
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They are going to work very well as subjects for added stitching.
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This bindweed print is especially making me happy. I am already designing an art quilt featuring it in my head.
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As always, thanks for reading and commenting!

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July 10, 2018

Experiments in wet cyanotype - part 25

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 Welcome to part 25 of my experiments in wet process cyanotype printing on fabric. You can view all the previous parts in reverse chronological order by clicking Wet Cyanotype in the top header, or go here.
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I had skipped a week or so of wet cyan printing because the weather was so extreme, with temperatures in the high 90s F, and humidity pushing the heat index well into 110+ range. At that point it's too hot for me to be puttering about in the sun, and printing doesn't work all that well either. Everything cooks too fast and the prints lack the qualities I strive for.

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 The weather finally broke and we had a few genuinely pleasant days, with 70's and 50% humidity, which passes for dry in a Pennsylvania summer. I put out a set of prints using Virginia creeper, calla lily leaves, and plume poppy leaves. For all of those I used my informal standard of a spritz of heavily diluted red textile paint, some sprays of diluted washing soda water, and then plain water to top it off before covering with glass and setting in the sun to expose.
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 I also did a print using poke leaves. Poke has a lot of sap, and I was curious to see if it could get a partial eco-print, so I just used plain water for that one.
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 I admire the poke plant, even as I struggle to contain/remove it from my gardens, probably I spent a lot of time as a kid making "ink" from the berries. I've also, on occasion, eaten the freshly emerged leaves in the spring (the mature plant is toxic to consume). And years ago I used poke in my very first conventional cyanotype print, which I made into Poke Salad:

Upon reflection I realized that I haven't used it since, so it was time to give it another treatment.

I let the prints expose for roughly 6 hours. Here are the finished but un-rinsed prints.
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 I love this orange color and wish more of it stayed in the rinse out.
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This 16" by 20" print of a plume poppy and a calla leaf shows a lot of potential.
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 This small Virginia creeper print dried out a bit too quickly, and the leaves shriveled, making the edges less distinct. I failed to wet it sufficiently to allow for the relative dryness of only 50% humidity. But the background is looking good, and since the ultimate goal of these prints is to be used in my art quilts, I have several options available if I decide to add more crispness to the edges later.
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 The poke leaves in the lower part of this print also dried and shriveled rather quickly, but I like the preview of what happened there.
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 Here are the finished prints:
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 The look good to me! I like the way the sun burns through the silvery bits on calla leaves.
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 This is a dynamic one:
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 Again, some blurring, but nicely artistic blurring:
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 And I'm in love with this poke print, there's so much going on here. It's always a bit tricky to photograph textiles, as the lens can't convey accurately all of the texture, and that's particularly true with this print. In person it's captivating, to me at least.
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As always, thanks for reading and commenting!

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July 6, 2018

Experiments in SolarFast printing - part 3

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I used up all of the SolarFast colors I had on hand except for red, scarlet, and purple. I wanted more variety in the next set of prints so I decided to experiment combining them with Dye-na-Flow textile paints. These are highly pigmented paints with a thin body that "flow" across the surface of the fabric.
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For subject matter I used plants from a corner of the garden that needed to be weeded. The long oval leaves are burdock, the five pronged leaves are Virginia creeper, and the roundish ones are garlic mustard.
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I combined the reds and purples with three different Dye-na-flow greens. I was in the moment and didn't keep track of what got used where. These are all on cotton sateen.
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I covered the panels with glass and set them out in the hot sun. I let them expose for about 2 hours. As in my previous experiments, please be aware that I am purposefully ignoring the instructions on the correct way to use these products. Here are the exposed, un-washed prints.
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There was a nice amount of movement with the paint as the sun wicked it from under the leaves. And I think the Solarfast moved about a bit also, where it was under the leaves.
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But the really exciting part is where the Solarfast dye struck almost instantly, leaving the marks of the foam brush I was using. This is a big difference from the usual heliographic paint prints I do with textile paints like Setacolor Transparent. I hope to exploit this tendency in the next trial.
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The big question, though, is what would happen after exposure? The panels were still quite damp when I brought them in. The Dye-na-flow needs to be heat set, but the Solarfast needs a thorough wash out. What to do? I briefly considered trying to dry them, in lingerie bags, in the dryer, but that seemed both messy and likely to transfer color where I didn't want it. I also considered using lots of press cloths and trying to iron them dry, but that also seemed like a pain. 
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So I threw caution to the wind and just went ahead and washed them in hot water with textile detergent. Here are the results:
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I was counting on the heat that built up under the glass during the exposure at least partially setting the Dye-na-flow, and that appears to be what happened. Some of it washed out, but much remained. 
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I'm so pleased with the dynamics of these brush marks. These are nuanced and lovely prints, in my opinion, and I'm planning on trying this again.
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There's lots of subtle brush marks in this one also, along with plenty of veining details. This will be fun to add stitching to.
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As always, thanks for reading and commenting!

And a reminder that I also post on social media:
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July 4, 2018

A Welcome Blanket

Welcome Blanket
 It seems fitting that I finished my Welcome Blanket quilt on July 4th. It will be displayed with many others at the Museum of Design Atlanta, then will be gifted to a new immigrant. I hope it helps to make them feel truly welcome as they begin their new life in the USA.
Welcome Blanket, detail 1
 I am a patriot and an idealist who believes in the message on the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"  

I am the descendant of immigrants, as are most of us. My community welcomes many newcomers each year, and all deserve a chance to follow their dreams and build a new life for themselves and their families.      
Welcome Blanket, detail 2
I pieced this 40" x 40" quilt out of bits and pieces of other projects. This type of patchwork is practical as well as symbolic. I quilted it in meandering lines to represent a safety net that connects and protects us all.

I learned about this project through a SAQA newletter. It's open to anyone who knits, crochets, or sews. All the details can be found at Welcome Blanket.

July 2, 2018

Experiments in wet cyanotype - part 24

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 Welcome to part 24 of my adventures and experiments in wet cyanotype printing. For this batch I coated silk noil with the cyanotype chemicals. Silk noil, or raw silk, has a lot of seratin, which tends to repel moisture, and it also has a hefty hand to it with lots of little surface nibs.
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 All of this makes it hard to coat with solution, I have to really work it into the surface, and then it soaks up an amazing amount of it. So I don't work with it often, but it's still worth it. The effects are very different than when printing on smooth weave cotton.
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 The subjects this time were the usual suspects--comfrey, sweetgum, Solomon's seal, and wood poppy leaves.
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 With a bonus large print of a calla leaf (just coming into its own) and a bleeding heart compound leaf (starting to fade in the garden).
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 The weather was very warm and humid. I could tell right away the prints were going to be special:
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 Here's the exposed, un-rinsed prints after about 8 hours in the mid-summer sun:
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 I love this sweetgum leaf:
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 There's a lot going on here:
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 And here are the finished prints. Because of the texture of the silk, they are soft and dreamy.
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 This one looks like a starry night:
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 There's a bit of fireworks or fireflies in this wood poppy print:
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 I love the way the white marks on the calla leaves show up on the print.
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All in all, a good batch and I am happy.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting!

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