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Interest in painting on fabric has been growing for years. I started teaching this subject around 2000. I thought I'd share the method I devised for having control of fabric inks to give you more success when painting defined images. There is nothing worse than uncontrolled bleeding or ending up with a muddy, dark image. The following instructions only work with water based inks, not alcohol based. I prefer to use Tsukineko. I recommend starting out with their Fabrico pens.
There are just a few steps for success:
- Fabric- Use a long staple cotton fabric that is either Prepared for Dyeing or has been washed to remove all sizing and other chemicals. I use Synthrapol when I wash mine. Don't use a dryer sheet as it will coat your fabric, making it necessary to wash it again! Long staple means fewer fuzzy threads on the fabric. I used batik in this project. Inks are transparent so use light to medium value fabrics.
- Transfer the image- Lightly trace the line drawing to your fabric with a fine point mechanical pencil. Do NOT use a heavy hand as you will later see it, the graphite may smear, and there is no way to remove it.
- Prepare the fabric for the ink- Color heavily over the whole image, making certain that you DO cover the fabric extending at least 1/2" beyond the line. If you color up to the line, when your ink reaches the edge of your line drawing the fabric will naturally wick the ink into it and the whole purpose of using the crayon as a base is lost. Crayon is applied to slow down the absorption of ink into your fabric.
- Press with an iron until the white is clear. If you are using a steel sole plate you don't need to cover the crayon covered fabric. The wax will melt into the fabric, filling the tiny holes in the weave, making a smooth surface. You can now apply your ink, a little at a time, blending as you go, and create beautiful artwork on fabric. I like to blend with a water dampened flat shader brush or with Tsukineko Fantastix-Bullet Tip applicators and a little water. You can also use other mediums.
And a couple more tips...
- If you have an iron that is Teflon, it will leave residue from the iron on your fabric. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the ironing board, place your fabric crayon side down on top of it and press from the wrong side to melt the wax.
- For special effects try rubbing alcohol. Drop it on your ink before it dries and watch what happens! Careful, rubbing alcohol pierces the wax barrier so it will travel quickly. Start with just one drop.
I look forward to adding short videos showing how to do things in future blogs!!