The story so far… You may recall a little while back I took part in Marilla Walker’s Hand Printed Fabric Swap. I was paired with Louise of Elsie May and Bertha. I had decided to go with my idea of a daisy lawn print.
Now read on…
I started by making the stamps. I drew my ideas onto craft foam (man, that stuff stinks!) and cut out the shapes. I used tiny embroidery scissors, because I wanted to be able to get a good curve and sharp angles, to differentiate the petals. I stuck the stamps onto blocks of wood offcuts, generously provided by the Gentleman Friend. We did end up having something of a “creative dialogue” as to whether my daisies are technically daisies or not, given that in real life daisy petals are long and pointed, whereas mine are wide and rounded. I won this argument by virtue of the fact that I’m not doing *actual* daisies, they’re more stylised/conceptual daisies, and in any case, it’s my project and I can call them daisies if I want to, so nyer!
Once I had the stamps made, I had to do some test runs. I used about 25cm of my fabric length to try various print blocks and colours, and see how much paint I’d need, and so on. Well, you saw the try-outs, I’d picked a green that was too dark. My bad, I hadn’t really thought that through when I’d clicked the “buy” button, live and learn. But I didn’t want to waste more money and time (I was working to a deadline!) trying to buy more fabric, so I figured I just *had* to make it work.
One of the try-outs, which I tried after taking the disaster photo, was a smaller flower shape, in the white. The smaller shape printed reasonably well in the white, so I tried adding a little yellow centre to it, to see if the white behind it would make it pop. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to “pop”, I would have been happy with a slightly damp “pfft”, but it turned out OK, and I decided that would be the one. I abandoned my lovely ladybird idea and decided it was just the lawn.
In view of the fact that I have very little working space in my flat and the fact that I had two colours to work with, I had to do my printing over several sessions, spanning the whole of the August bank holiday weekend. The first thing was to print the white flowers. I decided I wanted the flowers to be approximately 10cm apart, and eyeballed it. The lawn is therefore not entirely geometrically even! I had worked out that it was easiest to apply the paint to the stamp rather than trying to dip the stamp in paint- the paint is too thick and the stamp is not thick enough for that to be useful. I started using a paintbrush to cover the stamp, but it soon became clear it was easier to use my finger, I could get a much more even coverage. I did one set of white flower stamps which was about 70cms of my metre, in one sitting on Friday evening, left it out to dry and did the second set on the Saturday. I did a smidge more than the requisite one metre, because I was on a roll.
On the Monday, I did the yellow centres. I just finger-painted them on (this project has been very much like being in primary school!). So this fabric really is “hand-printed”. Again, I had to do it in two goes, and I gave it plenty of drying time between them, because the yellow paint wasn’t “soaking” into the fabric like the white one, it was resting on top of the layer of white paint.
Once the yellow paint was dry, I ironed the heck out of it, to set the paint.
Then I washed it again, to check that it was all ok. Because if it wasn’t, I had a load more printing to do, and not much time to do it. That was a real heart-in-mouth moment! But hooray, all was well- it survived the washing machine and the hot tumble dryer, without ill effect, so I could safely send it out in time for the 2nd September deadline. Though, as it turned out, Louise and I agreed a time extension, so it’s only now that it’s ok to post about this fabric. Gosh, it does seem like a long time since I did it!
Given that this was my first ever attempt, my hand printed fabric turned out way better than I expected. Although, that isn’t saying much – I had very low expectations! It wasn’t perfect, far from it. But I like what I created and I hope Louise can find some creative use for it.
It’s been an interesting project, because it was all so new to me. Now I’ve got more of an idea of what I’m doing, I’d like to do more fabric-printing. I’ve got lots of designs (“designs”, she says! They’re just ideas and doodles) I want to print, and more importantly, use. The ladybird will happen one way or another. And the Gentleman Friend has put the idea of cherries into my head. Then there’s a load of seashore prints I’d like to try (maybe in a nautical navy). So it’s a big thank you to Marilla, for making this happen!
P.S. If this has inspired you to think about hand printing fabric yourself, word on the street is that Marilla may be hosting another swap in the not too distant future.
P.P.S. There will shortly be a What I Received post, but this one has been sitting in my Drafts folder for quite some time- and at last I can post it!