Summer is a fabulous time of year to increase your hand-painted and dyed fabric supply for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you can work outside and not get things inside your house messy. Secondly, you can work outside and it’s an excuse to be outside AND working at the same time.
Here are some tips and things to think on when braving the elements to create textile masterpieces:
- 100% cotton gives the best results. A high thread count gives crisp lines and good colour. I find that 100% cotton sheeting or quilt backing works fabulously and generally purchase mine in the fabric section of Wal-Mart.
- man-made satin can be interesting, but iron it only lightly or it will melt! It is therefore not as colour-fast as cotton when finished.
- Silk is fun and gives a softer texture to the finished work. Iron on the appropriate setting. Silk organza and satin are very rewarding (but expensive).
- Threads and laces and cording made of natural fibres can also be painted, but their “hand” may be altered. Paint embellishments for a project at the same time as you paint the main fabrics and using the same paint mixes, so that they go together well.
- corrugated plastic comes in 4 x 8 foot sheets and is great for stretching and pinning fabric in preparation for painting.
- keep a set of “painting pins” and “painting scissors”, so that your good ones don’t get covered in goop. Consider a painting iron too, especially if your husband regularly uses your sewing room iron to iron his white dress shirts.
Things to remember:
- Generally, wash your fabric first, dry it in the dryer and iron it to mostly flat.
- Set-up is very important – protect your home, garden furniture and clothes from splatters!
- Mix enough paint of each colour at the start
- Paint a piece bigger than you anticipate needing, if you are painting for a specific work.
- Water acts as a lightener. Think of it as your “white”.
- The faster fabric dries, the darker the colours will be.
- Paint bleeds on fabric, no matter how careful you are. It will bleed more readily into damp areas. To increase bleeding, spray the area with water. To prevent, do not moisten fabric. Resists can help to contain areas.
- For large quantities of fabric, consider baking the results instead of (or as well as) ironing them.
- Don’t iron a piece before it is completely dry.
- Keep your test pieces and label them with a fabric pen for your first few sessions. They will act as your “cheat sheets” in future projects.
- Fabrics will often turn out radically different from your preconceptions and intentions. Trust in serendipity.
- What you leave to dry and what results may be different things.
- Any ripples in the fabric will show in the results.
Skies and water:
- skies are darker higher up than they are towards the horizon. Paint the top of the fabric, and allow the paint to bleed into the horizon (tilt the board to help).
- Skies are rarely one colour. Some basic reminders:
- 1. Summer daytime sky/water recipe:
- 1 part cobalt to 2 parts ultramarine
- 1 part ultramarine to 2 parts cobalt
- water each down to taste
- use intermingled with sponge for skies and dab
- use foam brushes for ocean and paint in broad, sweeping strokes
- 2. Night skies – they may look black, but are more effective when painted blue, black and purple:
- Paint on hot, sunny days with low humidity for best results
- Blue with lots of black
- Purple with lots of black
- Add rather little water – test on test sheet first
- Stars can be added when fabric is almost dry using pearl shimmer paint and a dry brush
- Moons can be added after, or put on first. If put on first, allow to dry before painting the sky
- 3. Sunrises
- Paint in cool conditions and dilute the paint more than you think necessary
- Allow to dry slowly for best results.
- Muted colours work best
- Start with yellow, add pink, move to blue. Allow them to bleed into each other. Dry flat.
- 4. Sunsets
- Paint in warm or hot conditions. The hotter and drier the weather, the stronger a sunset you will have.
- Tinge colours with their opposites on the colour wheel. Yellow tinged with purple, blue tinged with orange, etc. Only a drop of the opposite is needed to make the colour richer.
- 1. Summer daytime sky/water recipe:
- Sun painting works best in warm, dry weather.
- Only the Pebeo Setacolor transparent paints can be used for sun painting.
- Pin leaves down to prevent their blowing away
- Try other materials for shadows in sun painting – flower petals, grass, etc. all give different effects.
- Pearl shimmer paint and opaque paints can be used over top of transparent and will cover the lower layers.