Stage 3 – A Larger Piece
Moving on from the wax resist and Vilene prints, today I worked on producing a larger piece of fabric with a repeat pattern using my plastic paper motif previously explored with the fabric paints. It will be good to compare the results of the two techniques.
Firstly a bit of an issue with the combined dye / print paste mixture. Obviously I had some left over from my previous printing so I expected to be able to pick them straight up again today and use them – keeping in mind that I thought they may have been slightly thick last time. They had solidified a little more in the tubs so I used some spare (clear) thickened paste – which for some reason had not thickened any more (wonder whether there is some kind of a reaction once the dyes have been added?) to dilute the colour and make it more useable. The first one looked pretty good and ready to go but as I went on down this route not all of them were working. With some colours, mainly the darker ones, I managed one partial pull before the thick dyes sort of rolled up into jelly strings and wouldn’t push through the mesh. They rolled along the surface of the screen like big globules. I could even pick them up with my fingers and not get any dye on me as they seemed to have a dryish skin / surface. Very, very odd. What should I do next?
I put a little dye paste in a tub and added chemical water to liquify it more, mixing very firmly as lumps were already forming. Once smooth I added more of the dye paste until I had got it the right consistency and colour. Then I tried printing again and it worked. The dyes were as good as first time round, in fact better because they flowed across the surface more easily than last time. I’m not sure what was happening but adding more chemical water and a bit of fresh paste to my premixed thickened dyes seemed to work. I’m sure there is some whizz out there who can explain the chemical reactions to me but at this stage I’m just glad I finally managed to print something.
Once my mixing problems were resolved I started with turquoise and reduced the ratio to print paste to get a lovely light colour to start laying down my background. Leaving the screen dirty I added more of this mix + a little more stronger turquoise. This gave me the couple of streaky areas you can see above. Didn’t like that so, from this point, I premixed every colour to get an even colour change without the streaks. Then I went a little darker again. To the original pale turquoise I added a smidge of red to get the light purple, then this was darkened. All up, the background consists of six colour mixes, all starting from turquoise.
The motifs used two different colour mixes – bright red with a tiny touch of black and ultramarine blue with a touch of black. I’m really looking forward to seeing the colours once the batching is complete.
The whole piece is around 1.5m x 70cm and was obviously worked damp on damp. This caused some ghosting as the screen was constantly being placed back down on top of other colours and picked up some of the dyes. Here I tried to minimise that effect but actually I think working in this manner almost guarantees you are going to get some of this happening. For my own interest and pleasure I’m going to do another piece and allow the screen to pick up whatever it wants and transfer it all over the cloth – not quite breakdown printing but still a more random effect that I’ve been trying for so far.
I’m learning that this seems to be the point when screen printing with dyes. If I continue down this route I’m going to get some lovely shapes happening but they are going to be a little fuzzy. However, what I love about the dyes is that they really do sink into the fabric and not just look like they are on the surface like the paints. Both methods have their place. Maybe I should dye print a base and overprint it with paints to get a design that seems to be an integral part of the fabric but with a sharp motif on top.