Thursday, May 16, 2013


I fell out of the blogging tree again, didn't I? But I am back now, post my breakdown.

Not mental health breakdown you understand (although if you saw the cost of the online order for dyes and fabrics I just placed, you might think so!). No, the first thing I did in my brand new wet studio ( see the video over at Tea and Talk for Two) was start to learn how to do breakdown printing with the aid of the Committed to Cloth book.

I decided to aim for a result that would remind me of the African Batiks I love to buy from The African Fabric Shop and made some screens with made up symbols on them like this. If you have never done breakdown printing this is basically dye thickened with a product called Manutex and squeezed out of a ketchup bottle and left to dry for a long time. This screen was prepared after I learned that it really does have to be thick if it is not all to run and drip through.

The next stage is to pull thickened dye and/ or plain print paste through the screen with a squeegy. at first the dried dye on the screen acts as a resist and you get negative shapes. then as it re-hydrayes it starts to breakdown and leave part of the symbols on the fabric.

My first set of fabrics were pleasing in terms of marks but I was suprised how pale they ended up.

This one was a slightly different screen in that I cut symbols out of packing foam and pushed them into thickened dye.

I actually like the fragility of them but it was rather a suprise to have them end up so washed out. The solution was simple- a greater dye to print paste ratio.

This one was an early one which did come out marginally stronger. I like the frond like lines whch simply came from the creases that arose becuase I did not pin my fabric under very good tension. Therefore as I lifted the screen the wet fabric came with it and creased and I was too lazy to do anything about it. I may do that deliberately in the future.

So I made up more screens and was braver with the dyes. Talking of brave, Dennis even had a go. He hates 'mess' so this was a big moment for him! The lack of gloves is not a function of his bravery but everything to do with my stock of gloves being in my size not his!

He didn't stick around to do all the layers but this is how 'his fabric' turned out

And another with the same colours but in very different proportions and a different screen. The symbols are much less evident but I like the randomness of the colour spread.

I think this shot of them together on my print surface shows the contrast and colour better. I have a little plan for these...But that's for another post!

Finally, this was one from the first batch where I wrote english letters on the screen in turquoise and pulled the screen only with plain print paste to see how that worked. However, the overcomplication department of my brain decided it was necessary to do some Da Vinci like mirror writing. It is not!

I shall be doing more of this. It's plain fun!!


1 comment:

Maggi said...

Good results and trying a new technique is always a learning curve. I really like to see the image break down with successive pulls.