June is a great time to sun print. In 2014 I was in charge of the June blog posts on the Fire blog. For that month I chose sun printing and asked three other artists to join me in blogging about various ways to sun print. One of them included Jacquard Solarfast, a product I had never used. The June posts start here.
I had wanted to try this type of sun printing, but just never got around to it. Then the good people at Jacquard sent me a Solarfast kit back in September to play with. I waited until now to try it to make sure there was plenty of sun. Here is the kit.
Let’s get started.
I pour the dye directly on the fabric, but wanted you to see how they look straight out of the bottle. As you can see, it’s hard to tell colors. This is orange and blue. They will appear clear when you spread them on the fabric.
Lay out your fabric on foam core or a piece of cardboard. This will help you transport the fabric to the sun.
Pour Solarfast in the middle of your fabric.
Using a sponge brush, spread it over the fabric.
You don’t want the fabric to be real wet, so take a paper towel and blot it until the fabric is just damp.
For this next step, add what you want to print. For this first example I am using photo negatives that I printed out of my inkjet printer. Jacquard has a great Solar Fast negative generator. The steps are simple:
- Upload your picture
- Change it to black and white
- Change to negative
- Use the sliders to increase the contrast and brightness if necessary.
- Print out on ink jet transparencies or the Solarfast film. You can also download the negative image to your computer for printing later.
The Solarfast kit came with film. However, in my experimenting I quickly used it up. I ended up using my inkjet transparencies and they worked fine.
I decided on this picture from our Hawaii trip.
After printing out the negative and letting it dry, I placed it on top of the fabric. Be sure the transparency is ink side up.
Cover with glass and then set it out in the sun.
Now to wait. I gave it around 15 minutes. Jacquard had a chart for estimated sun exposure times for the various colors.
Bring the fabric in and remove the glass and negative. Don’t do that in the sun.
Then wash in hot water and dry and you have your Solarfast print.
I had to try this several times until I realized my negatives were not opaque enough. One of the suggestions from Jacquard is to print two negatives and stack them. That worked great. Save the negatives to reuse.
Here is another picture – one of my favorite irises.
You will notice the colors are a bit different. I thinned them with water and mixed them.
But you don’t have to just use negatives. I love to use our ferns in sun printing. These ferns I preserved two years ago and they still work great. See my tutorial on preserving botanicals here.
Follow the same procedure above, but instead of the negative, place the ferns or other masks over the fabric and cover with glass.
Again bring the fabric out of the sun before removing the glass and the ferns.
I also love using this fabric as a stencil and for sun printing.
and the finished piece.
Lastly, I used one of my thermofax screens. For this I put the thermofax screen over the dry fabric and used a foam brush to add the Solarfast dye.
Then I just set the fabric out in the sun without the glass and watched it turn colors before my eyes. Pretty neat.
The dye isn’t real thick, but worked fine with my screen.
This is fun stuff. I just used this on pieces of fabric. However, this works great on t-shirts. I could also see these images on tote bags or small canvas zip purses.
Here are my tips:
- Blot the fabric so it’s just damp.
- Be sure negatives are opaque. If not, double them or run the transparency through the printer twice.
- Let the transparency dry before covering with glass.
- Place the negative ink side up.
- If you don’t want such bright colors, thin them with water. I thinned them 1 to 1.
- You can also draw on the transparency and sun print your art work. I was going to draw a mandala but ran out of dye!
- Jacquard has lots of information online. Be sure and read it before proceeding.
I thought that my colors were limited by the three that were in this sample kit. However, the more I worked with them I realized that they blend well. Watering them down also gave them a softer look that I really liked especially on the iris prints.
This is just another option for sun printing. This works great for the other printing I did, but if you want to sun print your photos, this is the way to go.
Disclaimer: I received this product from Jacquard. The opinions expressed here are 100% my own. I was under no obligation to offer a positive review and received no monetary compensation.
I love these! And I am intrigued by the various ways to use the print medium. I do have one question – when you do other types of sun print, do you use the glass to hold down the items? When I tried sun printing before, I was always concerned that the wind would disturb the items I was using to block the sun, but the glass sounds like a way to avoid that. Have you tried it using fabric dyes?
Judy, When doing regular sun printing I don’t use glass. It doesn’t work well at all. Condensation builds up and I never could get a good print. You just can’t sun print on windy days or you put something to hold down your masks (rocks etc) but then you have those additional marks on your fabric. I’ve never tried dyes. I don’t think they would work because of how once the dyes hit the fabric they bond. But don’t really know.