Lately I have been thinking about the different ways I can add colour and surface design to the fabric I use for my 3D pieces. Mostly I use dye, lino prints with ink and stitch and am very happy with the bold results. For the next piece in this series I wanted to explore adding much more detail to the fabric surface, so I turned to my home printer.
I dabbled with printing on fabric with my home printer a long time ago when I printed the lighthouse at Cape Point, South Africa, onto fabric for a quilt called 'Storm@Cape Point'. It worked well and I was very pleased with it at the time.
Back then there was a product called Bubble Jet Set which was recommended for pre treating fabric, prior to passing it through the printer. Unfortunately I could not get hold of any, so I turned to the internet to discover a home-made version. I tried several different recipes and the method I found most successful used alum - and as I recall, was a very messy experience. However, it did the job and the printed photo still looks good today, 7 years later.
A lot of progress has been made in printing on fabric since then, with many large commercial online printers offering large format print on demand services by post. I have tried a few and been reasonable happy with the results, but I like the ability to print a sample, play about with it, print another and so on, which doesn't really work well when you have to wait a week or so for the fabric to be delivered. So I went back to the DIY method and searched for a product to coat the fabric with at home. These days the 'go to' product seems to be a coating made by a company called inkAID. Their website describes it as 'inkAID Inkjet Receptive Coatings allow you to create fine art digital and mixed media inkjet prints on an almost infinite variety of materials' and I can say with confidence, it works really well. Once again, it is messy, but in my opinion, the results are worth it. Here is a link to the manufacturer's website: https://inkaid1.com/
Having decided to print my own design onto the fabric I obviously needed an image. I could have chosen a photograph or a scanned image, but I thought it would be fun to try something a different - so I took a photo of one of my 3D quilts and set to work manipulating it with image editing software (I always use GIMP) and the 'kaleidoscope' filter it has. I have a thing for kaleidoscopes, so this was a lot of fun. This is the image I started with............
You can see more images of this quilt and others in this series in the gallery on my website, or by clicking here
Using the kaleidoscope filter and transforming different layers, I ended up selecting 2 different designs to print onto fabric - I am sure you will agree, you would never tell that they came from the source image.
The colour palette for these squares was inspired by these beautiful Red Hot Poker flowers (Kniphofia) that were in bloom in the garden. Aren't they spectacular? The snails absolutely loved them too!
Printing the squares took the best part of 3 days, as the medium had to be painted onto the fabric and left to dry before cutting into sheets to feed through the printer. Putting it through the printer also took quite a time as great take care needs to be taken to trim the fabric so it has no loose threads or wonky edges. I did manage to mangle a few pieces and the printer did make a some very horrible noises, but overall is was a manageable job and the results were excellent.
The next part of the process was to trim and fold the squares into their modified pyramid shape. I always enjoy folding them, watching the stack grow bigger and bigger. Here are a few of the different colours. An added bonus of folding in this way is that there is decoration on all surfaces, inside and out which will mean that the final piece is dual sided.
Once I had a nice big pile I joined them by their tips to create a lattice structure.
You can see the finished piece by visiting the gallery on my website, where you will also find other pieces in this series. Click here to view the gallery.
I have decided to call it 'Metamorphosis' and I hope you enjoyed finding out a little more about it. I have submitted it for consideration to be exhibited next year - so am crossing my fingers!
Thanks for reading. Keep well.