31 Aug

Testing, Testing

Last year I was testing different ways to make human-sized sun prints on fabric. It was for a Security Blanket quilt I thought I might submit to Quilt National so when I discovered that their restrictions on publicly showing work were tighter than I had thought, I deleted the photos from my Flickr and Instagram accounts. But I digress. I’ve since submitted two other quilts to QN and decided that this one should be part of the upcoming Privacy in America show at my local art center. I’m not going to bother retreiving the old photos, but I’ll share new ones.

Sun Print Tests

Here are the results of my testing. From left to right:

Turquoise colored fabric treated for cyanotype by Blueprints on Fabric. This print (me laying on the fabric approximately 12 minutes) was made on a sunny day this May and turned out great. I was the pinnacle of my tests and will be what I use in my final project.

White fabric┬átreated for cyanotype by Blueprints on Fabric. This print (hubby laying on the fabric approximately 12 minutes) was made on a sunny day last November and even though it was done at noon, the angle of the sun was too much and I wasn’t happy with the results.

White fabric painted with blue Inkodye and hubby laying on the wet fabric for about 15 minutes while it developed. I was happy with the color and the print, but it was difficult to get the Inkodye evenly distributed over such a large area before it started to change color. I like this technique for smaller prints, but it’s too uneven and streaky for something 3′ x 6.’

The top print on the right is the result of laying my husband on white fabric treated with soda ash and using him like a stencil around which I sprayed Procion dye concentrate. There was more bleeding than I liked and the color was not nearly as intense as I had hoped. It took longer to clean my husband off than the rest of the process. Definitely not a technique I’d bother with again.

The lower print on the right is my first attempt. I painted white fabric with both Seta Color Transparent paint and thinned acrylics, then laid on the fabric while it dried (45 minutes last summer). It resulted in an interesting print, but it where I sweated (especially around the face) the colors bled into odd ghostly shapes, and I ended up with a sunburn for my efforts. I also wasn’t happy with the scuffed look of the final product once it had been set and washed.

Now I that I’ve settled on the cyanotype prints I have the basics for my quilt and the construction can begin. When I started pinning fabrics to my design wall I wasn’t quite satisfied with how it was looking. luckily, my friend Natalya came to visit and I showed her what I had. Her comments corrected my course and I’m excited to continue working on this — even though it totally needs more work than I had originally thought.

15 Jun

Experiments in the Sun

I’m kicking around ideas for a new series and needed to do a bit of experimentation. I pretty much know in my head what I want, and I think I know how to get it, but you never really know until you know.


I wanted to try a full body sun print. So, I laid out a piece of cloth on a large plastic tablecloth, painted it, dragged it out onto the patio into the sun, and lay down on it for almost an hour, from 10:00 to 11:00-ish. The first thing I learned was that concrete is really hard when you lay on it, unmoving, for so long. I also lost feeling below my elbows. The second thing I learned is that sweat messes with the process and makes the paint spread out in flowy puddles. Neat effect, but not the one I wanted. Sweat also makes it hard to tell when the rest of the fabric is dry. My smart phone, on which I was listening to a podcast also gave up in the sun. I called uncle and went inside to try again.


I figured that I was really better off trying again since it would be closer to noon and the sun wouldn’t cast unsightly shadows that blurred my face. This time, I got smart and laid out two thin sleeping mats side by side, then covered them with the plastic tablecloth. I covered that with a cotton tablecloth to hopefully absorb some of my sweat before it caused puddling. On top of that went another piece of painted fabric, and then me — this time wearing a long sleeved shirt to absorb at least that elbow to wrist sweat. I lay out for about 45 minutes, until just after noon.

This was much more comfortable, and created a much crisper image. The wicking worked so well that I have two ghost hands merely from setting my hands down on my way to the prone position. Next time, I must remember to only place body parts where heavier body parts will ultimately cover the marks. I faced the sun to get a better image. I wish I had a sweat-swabber to come out with some water and a straw every five minutes and a towel to dab my face, neck and lower arms. Unfortunately, everyone was inside and couldn’t hear my feeble cries over the podcast entertaining me from the shade of the screened door. Finally, my son came out and confirmed that the fabric I was not laying on was indeed pretty dry, and I was starting to feel a bit yucky, so I came in to hydrate and cool off. Still, I got a pretty good print.

I could stop with what I have, but it occurred to me that I could use myself as a stencil too, and that wouldn’t require so much time in the sun. I’ve ordered dye which I think will go through a spray bottle better than paint and will try out my theory when it arrives. Hubby wondered just how permanent the dye is. If you see me looking like a Smurf next week, we’ll know.