Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Hand printed fabric swap - where do you start?

If you have already registered your interest in this challenge or are still pondering on doing so then here are some ideas to get you thinking before kick off.

Bearing in mind that we are not all experienced printers in this challenge, it may be a bit confusing and difficult to know where to start exactly.

Printing can get expensive, so if you are starting from scratch in terms of equipment then it's probably best to get creative with your tools if you don't want to invest too much in a completely new craft. As far as colour goes, you can use as much or as little as you wish, but the more you use you the more you have to buy!


Here are some of the low tech solutions I have come across online to give you some inspiration...

Everyone uses toilet roll don't they? (I hope so!) This is such an effective way of producing an all over print. You could even place them in clusters to form shapes like triangles or do different colours. What about turning some of the circles into faces? Oh god, anything is possible!!!

The corn on the cob is ingenious! I totally love this texture and think this is one I am definitely going to try! FYI, there are a tonne of other vegetable stamp ideas out there too. Check out my pinterest board, but also google for ideas and look in your veggie bowl!

The above big blobs with dimples is a stamp which is actually formed from plasticine. If you have any spare plasticine lying around then you can really go to town with making shapes.

Me thinks that the houses are probably cut from lino, but if you've got any of that slim craft foam then you could create a similar kind of block. I mean the kind of craft foam that kids use here that you could cut with scissors, stick to a block of wood or something and hey presto you have a stamp!

Pencil rubber ends? Gotta love it.

Block of wood wrapped in string is another one I'll definitely be trying. It's got a bit of an Orla Kiely cross hatch vibe to it if done in different directions overlapped.

Spots made with a cotton bud dipped in ink is another fave. I love how irregular they look as opposed to using a cork, where they will be much bigger and more regular. Not that I'm dissing the cork method. I have tried it and it works out really well. In fact the humble cork is about to make an appearance further down.

If you can spare an apple then this is wonderfully kitsch isn't it?

A whole host of carved corks! These are best carved with a craft knife to get a clean cut, but going back to the craft foam, you could always cut small shapes and stick them to corks rather than carving. Maybe several layers though to give you a deep enough stamp. It's a great excuse to crack open the wine too!

The bubble wrap print illustrates perfectly how you can utilise stuff you have around you. Look at your recycling bin and see what textures you've got lurking in there. corrogated card or bottle tops could easily get you started.

It's easy to get bogged down with too many suggestions, so I'm going to stop there I think, as I'm getting myself into a bit of a tizz. I'm not sure how much I can point you in any direction and how much it's about just trying things for yourselves. If you are not so new to print then you can probably steer yourselves quite well anyway with lino prints and small scale screen prints, These are something I have dabbled with, but am not skilled enough to go into any detail. Have a look on the internet for tutorials and think about whether you want to create an all over pattern, dye technique or illustrative print.

One product I will introduce you to is freezer paper. This stuff is great for creating stencils and you can iron it onto the fabric. Here's a link to a tutorial to give you an idea of what it is. I have used this on the below print and it was so simple. I drew my shape on the freezer paper (which is supposed to be a bird made from my hands, like shadow puppet), cut it with a craft knife and placed the stencil onto the fabric fixing it with an iron. I then stamped inside the stencil with a cross cork stamp a load of times until the shape was filled in, removed the stencil and repeated the process over the fabric. The grey dots in the background are another cork stamp which I kept on stamping fairly randomly. So low tech and it didn't take a whole load of time. I did sample to get a look that I was happy with (which is essential), but printing a metre like this was not too bad. I was stamping up and down fairly quickly, as there's no need to be really careful when you're basically colouring in a stencil with a stamp. You could even get little people to help...

I wrapped my print in a little sleeve made of parcel paper with my name stamped on before sending. You do not need to do this, but I thought it added a nice touch!

 What inks are you going to use?

I'm sure that you are going to want recommendations at some point and I have been pondering at where to start.

I use Speedball screen printing ink for the most part, but they do a block printing ink too. I've never used this, so don't know what it's like, but they are good products. Just check that the ink you are buying is suitable for fabrics and not just paper!!! See part of their range here.

Another brand I use is Versacraft fabric stamps. These are brilliant for small scale prints, but you may only get a patchy coverage with it. This is something I like, but may not be what you want. I ordered mine from Sticky Tiger as they have a large colour selection in stock.

If you are going down the stamp pad route then one brand I totally do NOT recommend is Dovecraft. The feedback is true and this stuff never dries properly and will never stop smudging. It's really bad on paper and fabric. Steer clear!!!

If any of you have some recommendations for products or techniques then do share as we're all open to suggestions!

I hope this post is useful and don't forget that if you want to join in then comment on the previous post here with details! Come on, it'll be fun!!!