When I was brainstorming for my column in the May issue of Family Circle, I decided I wanted to make sunprints out of vintage botanical clip art using Inkodye, a sun sensitive dye that comes in a variety of colors, not just the traditional Cobalt blue. I started by printing out this vintage engraving of a poppy from The Graphics Fairy, placing it under a pane of glass, then tracing over it with a black, fine-tipped artist marker. I coated a piece of white cotton fabric with a thin layer of the Inkodye, then placed the glass face down over the coated fabric and exposed it in the sun. The image shown above was the result of that experiment.
I knew immediately that it wouldn't be right for the magazine, but I knew just as quickly that it was perfect for me. I love the faded, mottled look (which occurs due to the condensation that builds up between the glass and the dye coated fabric as it sits in the sun), the uneven printing. It works for me. My next experiment will be with black Inkodye. I'm hoping for a mottled image that feels like a chalk drawing on a dusty chalkboard. (See update on this experiment.)
After this semi-failed experiment, however, I still had a column to do and I knew I wanted to do something revolving around botanical prints. I also liked the tracing on glass. I found it easy to do (lacking any and all ability to draw) and interesting to look at. But the black was too harsh for what I had in mind. I definitely had my heart set on white.
I picked up a couple of oil-based Sharpie paint pens (Fine and Extra-Fine tipped) at my local Michaels and tried again. Success! The pens were great to work with, capable of the finest detail, opaque and quick-drying. The result of that technique was a cleaner, sharper look - the opposite of my sunprinted image. Still, two paths that I'd like to explore further.
But what do you think? Which technique do you like the best?
I used this tutorial as a basis for my sun printing experiment. It recommends using dry erase markers, which is fine if you can find them with really fine tips. Otherwise, use fine tipped art pens (available at artist supply and craft stores) that are used for technical drawings and illustrations. Just make sure they're water and smear-resistant when dry.
For more information and examples of the botanicals created with the Sharpie paint pens, see Momster.