Sun Printing: Dye-Na-Flow vs Setacolors

I’ve been sun printing for years, and my go-to paint has always been Setacolors Lights. I decided last week to experiment again, and do a comparison with it and Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow. You can check out my other sun printing posts here.

To tell you the truth, I really didn’t set out to do a comparison. I was having so much fun sun printing, ran out of my favorite Setacolors paint, so I went to my Dye-Na-Flow paint to play some more.

Here are comparisons. This one is with the Nandina leaves. If you want a color block look, use the Setacolors. Dye-Na-Flow colors were painted the same but all blended together.

This is with ornamental grass. I used a few different colors in the top one, but you can still see the comparison. Again you see lines versas blended colors.

These are using asparagus ferns. They really don’t show up real well in either piece, but I wanted you to see the colors.

Lastly I sunprinted our ferns, but just in Dye-Na_Flow.

Just by looking at those photos you can see the difference. Dye-Na-Flow acts like a dye, with all of the colors blending. Setacolor acts like a paint and stays where you put it. In the first sample I was trying for a color block look. You can get it with Setacolor, not with Dye-Na-Flow. It depends on the look you are wanting.

Also the botanicals didn’t print as well with the Setacolors as the ones with Dye-Na-Flow. I printed on two different days. The Setacolor day was hot, humid and sunny. The Dye-Na-Flow day was hot, humid, and somewhat overcast. Not sure that made a difference in the printing, but if you’re not familiar with sun printing, it’s not about the sun. It’s about the heat and humidity.

Something different I did this time was use the paints full strength. I have always used them water downed. Since COVID I’ve been looking toward brighter colors, and decided I’d sun print them full strength. The results showed me that this is the way to sun print.

I’ve changed my technique over the years, and adding the paint full strength is just the newest improvement. If you’ve never sun printed, you are in for a treat. I’ll give you a fast tutorial here.

Since I like to work in the garage, I make a carrier sheet to take my fabric outside. The carrier sheet is a piece of cardboard (or anything sturdy) covered with a piece of plastic. I add clamps to keep the plastic on it. You could get fancy and duck tape the plastic to the back. I might do that next time!

Here is my carrier with plastic, my brushes, paint, plastic cups, and my dry fabric.

Soak the fabric in water. Wring it out, and place on the plastic. You don’t have to worry about wrinkles. They add texture. Then start painting. For this piece using the Setacolors I painted in stripes, but you can paint however you like. Just get the paint down. Also, you want the fabric to stay wet, so paint quickly.

Once you are finished, it’s time to quickly add the botanicals, stencils, or whatever you want to use as masks. I had already cut them from the yard before I started painting. I let the ferns and leaves soak in water while I’m painting. I shook the water off, and placed them on the painted fabric.

I use my hands to place the botanicals where I want them on the fabric. In this piece I rubbed the pieces down with my fingers. If they continue to be stubborn and not want to lay down, I take my paint brush with paint of that color or just water and pat them down.

Then I carry them to the sun.

Let them dry in the sun. Remove the masks, and then allow the fabric dry for a day before heat setting it with an iron.  After you have heat set it you can wash if desired.

And that’s all there is to the process.

Have a great weekend, and as always, I appreciate you stopping by.