Friday, 17 September 2010

letterpress printing on fabric

I've always wanted to try letterpress printing on fabric and yesterday's rainy weather was the perfect opportunity to stay indoors and experiment.

I used 100% cotton muslin for these set of prints and love the results. Because the fabric is tightly woven it provided a nice flat surface for the wood type to press up against. Not sure how well an intricate design would do but I was pretty certain the large type would be super swell! Of course, I was only going for a successful transfer and not for any kind of impression in the fabric.

I sewed some large coasters (or a mini prototype of a tea towel)  that I plan to throw in the wash to see how the print/rubber base ink/fabric hold up against to detergent and drying.

I'm especially sweet on the zippered pouch I made to keep my journalling tools and scraps in.

I also printed a few fabric "posters" and framed them for the studio. The colour of the muslin is such a good match for the black ink.

I've still got some of this fabric left over, custom prints are welcome!

If any of you have printed (with oil/soy/rubber base inks) on fabric with a press, I'd love to know how it turned out (and how it fared after washing).



alexandria said...

These are so cool! So many good ideas swirling around here.

jax said...

I've been doing a bit of searching on the net about this with not much luck! I know you have to heat set it like you do with fabric ink or screen printing ink before you wash it. Hot dry iron 2-5 mins.
I've used oil and rubber based, oil based takes a lot longer to dry but easier to print on fabric with as it's runnier than the rubber based, had to put more ink on with rubber. Black is more highly pigmented compared to other colours so less resistant to fade.
I haven't done a rigorous test with the washing side of things as mine was on some calico bags, but I've got plenty of ink on my printing jeans that has never come out even after about 50 washes, and that's without being heat set first ;D
I did do a tea towel with reflex blue but it faded very quickly after a few washes but that could have been the fabric as the weave wasn't very tight. But then again I've heard its not a stable colour.
I also found that using a spongy packing helped with getting a decent print, don't think you'll ever get a solid print like screen printing but I like the texture of the fabric showing through.
Wow that was a long comment ;D
Let us know how you get on x

t a n y a said...

alexandria: thank you :) it had been a while since I posted about printing experiments.

jax: I've also tried to do some research and didn't find much on letterpress printing on fabric. Maybe it's because it's really not the best thing to do - I can see that it would wear down type. In any case, I just had to try it out.

I've also read about heat setting the ink, I just need it completely dry first!

Thanks for the note on oil base inks, good to know. I don't use oil base inks. I like how the rubber base is easier to control. I chose black for exactly the reason you mentioned that it's highly pigmented.

Good to hear about the ink still on your washed jeans! Ha!

I did use some heavy stock behind the fabric to help stabilize it while on the platen. It seemed to help with the transfer. I really enjoy the imperfections over a solid print.

Thanks for the dialogue. Hopefully this info also helps others.

Chantel I. said...

This looks really cool and I bet you could make some really neat poster-sized things on fabric. Or a calendar. Tea towels would definitely be cool too.

Amanda said...

Your fabric prints look amazing! I totally love them! I hope it works out through the wash! (fingers crossed!)

amanda jane said...

Oooo! Muslin is such a good idea. I've tried just plain cotton on my vandercook and the results were kinda embarrassing. I basically kept that experiment to myself. Thank you for sharing!

t a n y a said...

amanda jane: you're welcome...thanks for commenting. i'd still love to see the results of the printing on plain cotton :)

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