Tutorial for Sun Printing (Sun Painting)

I love Sun Printing – the serendipity aspects are marvelous, especially using organic masks – you’re never quite sure how it’s going to turn out.  And, if you don’t like the results just repaint your fabric and start over.

Materials you will need:

  • Fabric – 100% white cotton – prewashed in detergent and dried
  • Clothes you don’t mind getting paint on
  • a portable work surface: cover a piece of heavy cardboard with plastic and tape the plastic securely to the reverse side of the cardboard. The work surface should be a couple of inches larger than your fabric piece all around.
  • Straight pins
  • Paint:  sun sensitive fabric paint such as Dye-Na-Flow (from Lumiere) or light sensitive Setacolor fabric paint   Use from 1 to 3 different colors.
  • Foam brushes ½ inch to 1 ½ inch
  • Plastic bowls (one for each color that you will use –
  • Spritzer bottle with water
Prepared work surface and wet fabric

Prepared work surface and wet fabric

A variety of items to use as masks to create your design:

Use items that have enough weight to sit firmly on the fabric so that the sunlight doesn’t leak in under the edges in order to create a nice crisp print.  Lighter items will give you a more subtle look.  If there’s a light breeze you may want to place a weight such as a hardware washer on top of a mask that could blow away or shift position.  (such as a leaf)  A fine straight pin could be used to hold your item to the fabric as well.  Just make sure that it doesn’t cast a shadow -unless you want that effect.

The paint used in Sun Printing works by seeking out a light source.  So when you place a mask over a section of painted cloth, the paint will migrate into uncovered areas of fabric.

Here are some examples of masks you can readily find:

  • Found items such as old keys, coins of various sizes, buttons, safety pins, string of beads, botte caps
  • hardware items such as washers, screws, nuts and bolts
  • items you can pick up on a walk like leaves, petals, stones, fronds, stems
  • stencils (your pattern will be reversed)
  • shapes you cut out yourself from cardboard.
A variety of objects can be used to mask areas of your painted surface and produce your print

A variety of objects can be used to mask areas of your painted surface and produce your print

Method

  1. Secure your fabric to work board with pins or use masking tape to secure the edges.
  2. Wet down fabric thoroughly with water/spritzer bottle.  Keep the fabric wet until you’ve finished arranging your design.
  3. Choose between 1 and 3 paint colors for your first project.  Mix a small amount of each color with 2 parts water, placing one color solution in each bowl.   supplies
  4. Wet foam brush and start painting fabric.  Remember this is a background.  It doesn’t have to resemble anything; it is simply a colorful backdrop for your printing items.  While painting with color #1, leave white spaces for additional colors.
  5. As you add your additional colors, spritz more water to help the colors spread and mix at the edges.
  6. Have your masking items ready to arrange on your fabric immediately, especially if you are outside on a warm sunny day!

Fresh leaves from a rose bush are arranged on the wet painted surface of the fabric

7.  Quickly arrange masking items  on to wet painted surface of fabric.

8.  Take fabric – along with work surface to a sunny spot and allow to dry for 30 minutes to an hour – depending on temperature and humidity.

9.  Remove masks when completely dry. 

10.  Press fabric with a hot dry iron for about 4 minutes to set the paint.

The results

The results

More Rose Leafs - different color scheme

More Rose Leafs – different color scheme

sunprint

Latest Series of Workshops – a Highlight of the Summer

I can say two things for sure: Teaching teenagers art quilting fundamentals is FUN !!! and… Teaching teenagers art quilting techniques is EXHAUSTING !!!

I just finished up 3 days of workshops at Baron’s Sewing Center in Woodland Hills with a group of bright and talented young women.  They were eager to learn and to put their new skills into action.

Day One:

We started off with a lesson in Sun printing using Dynaflow Paint from Jacquard.  The plan was that the pieces would dry in the sun while we went on to the next topic. Well, Betsy and I knew they’d enjoy the process but hadn’t realized that this technique would be the hit of the day!  All they wanted to do was to Sun Print!!!  And I must say some amazing work was produced by these budding artists.  (I will be putting a Sun Printing Tutorial on my Blog shortly for all to enjoy).

Prepared Panels Drying In the Sun

The girls used all kinds of things to create their patterns – plumbing washers, nuts, bolts, coins of all sized, keys, decorative flashings from keyholes – sequin waste and decorative cutouts of their own design.

The session on painting techniques continued with stencilling paint on fabric and using rubber stamps to apply acrylic paint as well as pigment or dye ink from stamp pads.

Day Two started with a unanimous request for MORE SUN PRINTING !!

We were glad to oblige but made sure we got to the new stuff as well.  Our students learned the use of Fusible web to apply designs to their quilt tops and how to assemble the layers that would give them a foundation for quilting their pieces.

It was exciting and gratifying to see how quickly these girls caught on to the concept of free motion quilting. And although mastery of this technique takes many hours we saw some commendable first timer results here.

Day Three commenced with yet more requests for painting.  I promised they could do that after we talked about a couple of other things.  I reminded them how excited they had been with the idea of applying glitter to their quilts and took a few minutes to demonstrate how easy it is to do that.

We also went over the many uses of angelina fibers (one teen asked, “What about Brad?” and my response was “huh?”)

They had all decided that they wanted to turn their quilted panels into pillows.  So I proceeded to show them how to assemble a removable pillow cover using the pieces they had just created.  Here they are digging into the scrap bag looking for suitable pillow back fabric.

looking for that perfect piece to back their pillow with

Here is some of the work produced by this talented bunch.

Original drawing from one of our talented teens

And More Creativity on Display