Welcome to the Fabric Printing Project Videos
Click on the video links below to learn about Fabric Printing and to acquaint yourself with the various skills and techniques of Printing Fabric. Please note: I have designed these projects with minimal cost and accessible materials in mind as many of my students cannot afford printing inks, rollers, printing papers, etc.
Now that you have watched my demonstration videos, you are ready to apply your own talent to wonderful fabric printing techniques!
Fabric Printing Materials: What You Will Need
Fabric: Muslin, cotton or any natural fibre fabric work best, but polyesters and synthetics are OK, too. Old clothing, curtains, pillow cases, sheets, are great for this project.
Note: Cut the fabric two inches larger than that printing surface. For instance, if you are using a piece of plate glass that measures 8" x 10", cut your fabric into 10" x 12" squares. Also, for multi-printing, cut fabric squares two inches larger than the size of your cardboard that you will be using to make a printing plate.
A smooth surface for painting on: Glass, plexiglas, metal or a plastic breadboard, approximately 9" x 12." Anything that has a smooth surface that can be cleaned will work. You will be using it for painting with acrylic paints which will stain the surface, so use something that you won't be using for anything else!
Acrylic or fabric paints: A small starter set of acrylic tubes in at least six colors will work well for you printmaking projects. There are number of fabric paints also available art art supply stores and online. I recommend permanent, polymer-based paints in a variety of good, bright colors for these projects.
A water container, paper towels or clean rags.
Palette: A paper or plastic palette, aluminum foil, plastic, styrofoam or old china plate
An iron: You will need an iron for pressing the printed fabric, preferably an old iron that you don't care about. If it is your iron you use for pressing garments, paint or glue may stick to the iron's surface and transfer to whatever you are ironing. The plate of the iron can be cleaned a bit by setting the iron at a low temperature and applying paraffin or wax then rubbing the plate with a clean rag or paper towel. However, I recommend have a special iron just for ironing your printmaking fabrics.
An assortment of brushes Choose a set that has a variety of sizes.
Cardboard You will need at least three pieces of cardboard approximately 8" x 8" for your collograph plates.
Textural materials: A collection of items that will make a textural pattern on your collagraph plate. These items could include: string, grains, leaves, beads, lace, sand paper,etc.
Small bottle of Elmer's glue
Small can of spray shellac
Most of these materials can be easily purchased online by clicking on the Amazon logos.
Dry Fabric Technique:In my video demonstrations I have placed several acrylic colors on my paper palette. Basically, if you put down yellow, blue, green, brown, black, red and white, you will have all the colors you will need to produce a great printed fabric!
Now, you are ready to paint on the smooth surface. What do you want to paint? In my video demonstration, I am painting an abstract design. I am interested in color interaction, brushwork and texture. Please note: I am using acrylic paints for my video demonstrations, mainly because I often teach Fabric Printing to children or beginning students that have have limited financial resources and cannot purchase fabric dyes or paints that are a bit more expensive.
What do you want to do? Perhaps a certain image is appealing to you. Is there a landscape scene, a portrait, a certain pattern or design that you would like to use? Or maybe you would just like to be "loose" and paint whatever comes to your head, making abstract designs like I do.
I like to work this way but anything you like is perfectly acceptable because your images and subject matter will relate to your end purpose, which will be--what? A quilt, a wall hanging, a collage, or wearable art like a dress or t-shirt?
When you have completed painting on the smooth surface, you are now ready to take one of your fabric squares and press it down on what you have painted. Do this right away to ensure that the paint is wet so that it will transfer well. Now press down and lightly rub the total area with your hand. Now, lift the fabric off and look at it. Are you surprised at the reversed image?
Experiment with at least six printings, using different fabrics, colors, patterns and images. When you are finished, step back and look at your prints. Which ones do you like? How will you use them?
When the paint is dry, ironing (temperature is determined by the fabric) will make the colors permanent and the smooth fabric will emphasize your painted designs.
Wet Fabric Technique: Wet some of your fabric squares by holding them under the faucet, then press the squares between two towels. Now, paint your smooth surface with your desired image and print the moistened squares. There will be a difference in the result! The edges may be hazy and the passages of color softer and more blended.
Now, print the smooth surface again and try dry fabric. What is the difference and what do you prefer? Usually, with natural fibers the images that you painted on the smooth surface will transfer more readily because the fabric is more receptive to water. But, interesting things happen with polyester and synthetic fabrics, too! Maybe you would like to experiment with both and see what the results are. You decide what you want to do and adjust your materials accordingly.
When the fabric is dry, iron it(low or medium temperature depending on your fabric) to bring out your printed images.
In my demonstration videos, I show you how to press the dried printed fabric squares you have created. This enhances the images for single presentation or for collage. It is up to you to decide how you want to use your printed images.
So let's do more printing! This time we are going to make a printing plate so we can make more than one print. The key here is to develop a "vocabulary," a collection of images on your squares of fabric that you can use for collages, quilts, artwear, etc.
I recommend printing at least a dozen images. This process will acquaint you with the painting and printing processes and develop your skills in fabric printing. Remember, the more you create, the more you know, and the more you know, the more you can enrich your creative being (and that is an awesome thing!)
Keep in mind that with fabric printing, you can develop your images towards several directions: wall hangings, framed artworks, quilts and wearable art, to name a few. Perhaps you have some ideas of your own!
Make a Collagraph Plate
Take a piece of cardboard. You have collected some interesting items to glue down on that cardboard. Perhaps some seeds, some sandpaper, some lace--whatever. Take some time to look at what you have collected and to consider how their textures would work together on the cardboard and how they will print on the fabric.
Now start gluing the items down. Make a pattern or an image. Keep in mind, when you print it on fabric, it will be in reverse. When you think you have finished and everything is glued down very well--let it dry.
When it is dry, (this may several hours) spray the surface with shellac. Let the shellac dry thoroughly (this should take only a few minutes.) Several coats of shellac work best. Don't forget to ventilate the area when you are spraying the shellac! When your printing plate is dry, you are ready to print!
Put some colors on your palette, mix several different colors and start painting your collagraph plate with one of your brushes. Make several color areas that will describe the textures well. Cover the entire textured surface and work the paint into all the crevices and textures. Remember to work quickly to keep the paint wet so you will be able to print it.
I like to use earthy colors sometimes (browns, rusty reds, black, etc.) and keep the texture configurations monochromatic (basically in one range of color.)But, if you want to use bright colors, light and dark colors or both, go ahead and experiment. Like most printing processes, initially it is difficult to determine how the print will look. I love the surprise!
When you are finished painting, press a one of your fabric squares on to the plate, rubbing it carefully but thoroughly and pressing the fabric into the textures.
Don't spend too much time, because when the paint starts to dry, it may want to stick to the fabric and the fabric will be difficult to pull off the plate.
What was the result of your first printing? Do you like what you see? How can you improve it? Change the application of paint, change the colors? What would happen if you use colored fabric?
Printing is amazing. Go ahead, paint the plate again and print again using different colors each time. How was the result different? You have in front of you a technique of limitless duplication. If you are inspired try this lesson again. Make several fabric prints.
Ironing when the paint is dry will help enhance your images. You decide. Iron (low or medium temperature depending on your fabric) one print and compare it with those that are not ironed. Which do you prefer?
Analyzing Your Printed Fabric Work
Put all of your mono-prints and multi-prints up and look carefully at them. What interests you? Where can you improve on your skills and techniques? What inspires you? Do you see a direction you can take to develop your fabric printing skills further? What other textures could be used?
There are many other ways of printing you might want to investigate--many different kinds of plates, paints and other materials. Printmaking is fascinating and fun!
Here are some wonderful books on printmaking techniques and projects that you will find interesting! Just click on an Amazon logo to view: