There are no review questions at the end of this assignment so I’ll just make a few notes to keep as a reference for the future.
What were the main differences between using fabric paints and dyes as a print medium?
- Fabric paints sit on the material surface whereas the dyes are absorbed into the cloth. This means that paints are always going to change the handle of the fabric to some extent. However, having discovered the Aquatex range of products and used their extender with my Derivan paints I have found that this has thinned them enough to stop the fabric becoming too stiff. I’m very happy with the results I achieved after the Prints Charming workshop (where I discovered this extender medium) and it has made a big difference to my two final pieces.
- Once batched, dyes have the advantage of being permanent as they really become part of the fabric and because they are absorbed the cloth is fully reversible. I wonder about the durability of paints over time with washing, ironing and general wear. Will the surface patterning fade, rub-off or even crack particularly if they are on stretch or textured fabrics?
- Once fabric paint has been applied to a surface you can be pretty much assured that what you see is what you will get once dried – perhaps a small change in colour – but that doesn’t seem to be the case with dyes. At least not in my experience. I probably need to do more to test this fully but I’ve found that quite a quantity of dye comes out when rinsing after batching so everything becomes lighter and more diluted. It didn’t worry me with the type of printing I was doing but I can see problems if you are trying to achieve an exact colour or tone.
- I found the dye printing to be quite labour intensive with a lot of work to both prepare and finish off – soda ash soak fabric and dry them, mix the thickened paste, mix the chemical water, add the dyes, batch the prints, wash and dry them. My posts reflect my step by step process and the problems I encountered. At this point I have small quantities of many colours of thickened dye mixed up ready to use and as I prepare to move on to the next assignment I’m conscious of the waste I may have. I feel that I should spend the next week or so printing just to use them up. With the paints I can open the containers, mix up new colours in fresh tubs, add extender and then just put the lids back on and leave them for quite some time before having to use them up. The whole process seems easier, more enjoyable and with great results. Am I just being lazy? I don’t think so.
- I’m fairly sure I’m right in saying that break-down printing can only be done with thickened dyes as dried paint on a screen will create a permanent resist, so I’d like to have a go at that and see what results I get. Having seen work by other people it seems to be a good dye technique as you get somewhat serendipitous results, which is the intention. I can’t see any way these types of prints can be done using fabric paints.
Overall it has been a huge education with a steep learning curve and very enjoyable. Yes, I like printing and am keen to do some more.
My tutor sent some advice about following a design train of thought further than I have in the past, rather than flitting from one idea to another, so once I had chosen to move forward from my initial lines idea I stuck with it. However, other bits I collected along the way which may be used for future work have been stuck into my sketchbook for reference. They include the following:
The bicycle spokes idea evolved from when I was looking at the facade of Federation Square and I printed out a photo of what seemed to be a domed glass roof. With the radiating window supports I started think about wheels and spokes.
I also photographed quite a few other things: lobster clasps on the end of dog leads, shower head, wall sockets, cup hooks and the like. I’ve now got a bit of a resource library but whether they ever get used …..