By the time you are reading this I will be back home in Lincolnshire but, right now, I’m tucked away in a lovely holiday cottage a few minutes from the beach at Beadnell in Northumberland wondering….. where did the sun go? This is one of my favourite parts of the UK, come rain or shine, and this week has certainly been a mix of both! One day I needed sunscreen and the next it was a full set of waterproofs!
The beaches up here are a mix of fine golden sand, pebbles and wonderful layers of colourful rock – I can see a few of these images coming in useful as inspiration for future textile work.
But I digress……what I was wanting to share with you this time is my first attempt at sun printing. My friend Jacky has been doing a lot of this over the summer inspired by Micky Lawler’s “Skydyes”. A few weeks ago she suggested we get together in her garden, following social distancing guidelines, and she would show me how it’s done.
The first task was to roam around Jacky’s garden selecting leaves and flower heads for our prints. With eco printing certain leaves give better results (due to their chemical make up?) but with sun printing you can get sharpe prints from any leaf as long as you can make a good contact with your fabric. Some of the leaves we picked were hammered a little to flatten them out prior to use.
It was a very windy day so we used masking tape to hold down our cotton fabric before spritzing it with water.
Once we had wetted out we used a wide paintbrush and watered down (1:1) Pebeo Setacolor transparent paint to completely cover the fabric. You can buy paint specifically for sun printing but I’ve also read that any transparent acrylic paint will do the job.
Whilst the paint was still wet leaves and petals were then laid on and pinned, or weighted down using small pebbles, to ensure a good contact. We worked in the shade as fast as possible to avoid the paint drying out. As it was such a hot day the fabric was spritzed occasionally as we worked. Anything placed on the painted fabric acts as a resist for the sun, resulting in bleached out areas.
The work was left in the sun for an hour or so while we ate lunch and once it had done its job the fabrics were ironed and this was the result…..
We had a lot of fun and varying degrees of success but it’s surprising how much more interesting certain areas can appear when you use a view finder.
This final image is a beautiful quilt that Jacky went on to make using a piece of her sun printed fabric and silhouette appliqué. The effect is pretty striking!