So I thought the orange botanical prints I posted last week were fun, but I knew I wouldn't be able to live with either of them. They just weren't right for my home.
Instead I went back to the drawing board and ordered Inkodye in black, expecting that I'd create prints with a chalkboard feel. That wasn't quite what happened, but I'm very, very happy with the results of this particular batch of experiments and I learned a number of things, so it seemed worth it to post a tutorial this time.
What I Learned:
1. The black Inkodye didn't develop as a true black on fabric, but rather as a deep, deep teal with touches of black. I was satisfied with this effect because it was much deeper than the blue of traditional sunprints. It's possible that the glass had an impact, though even the edges of my fabric weren't a true black. (It was black, however, where the dye had gotten on the white foam core. So you could always try this on a base other than fabric.)
2. Different textured fabrics create different effects. I did most of my prints using a thin cotton muslin with slight striations in the weave. The dye picked this up, creating that same slightly striated effect in the finished print. When I used a textured linen look cotton fabric, the condensation patterns under the glass were so pronounced that the final print looked like it had rust patches on it. Still cool, just a very different effect. One other thing about texture - I used a garbage bag under my fabric to protect the foam core I was using (and I didn't tape it down). On one of my prints, the garbage bag was bunching up a bit due to the moisture and that effect came through in the final print as well.
3. Each piece is truly unique. My prints were similar, but some differed in ways that I can't offer an explanation for. But this is definitely part of the fun!
4. The color of the ink on the drawing makes a difference. For my first print, I used the white Sharpie paint pen drawing. The white allowed just a little bit of light to come through, which gave the illustration a slight sepia tint instead of white. When I used black for the drawing, the illustration came out in a range of whites.
Botanical engravings (or the drawing of your choice)
Glass pane (I used the pane of glass from a frame)
Pens of your choice - either white Sharpie oil paint pen (in Fine and Extra-fine) or black artist pens (I used waterproof, smudgeproof India ink markers) in Fine and Extra-fine.
White fabric (cotton, linen, or silk)
Foam core or cardboard
Garbage bag (optional)
Masking tape (optional)
Inkodye (1 bottle made four 11-x-14-inch prints)
Small foam brush
Small dish for Inkodye
Prep: Print out a copy of botanical art and trace over it with the pen of your choice onto a pane of glass. Let it dry for about 15 minutes before using.
Step 1: Cut your fabric to size, iron it, then stretch it out on your foam core and pin it in place. (Note: I started by using a garbage bag covered piece of foam core, then eliminated it altogether. Either works, but if you use a garbage bag, I'd suggest taping it in place to minimize wrinkling.)
Step 2: Working in dim light, brush a thin, even coat of Inkodye onto the fabric. The fabric doesn't need to be soaking wet, but damp.
Step 3: Turn your drawing inked side down onto the dye covered fabric. Carry it outside to a bright, evenly sunny spot.
Step 4: Set a timer for at least 5 minutes and watch it develop. You'll begin to see a color shift almost immediately, as shown here.
Step 5: You can see the dye developing more fully. The streaks under the glass are from condensation forming between the glass and fabric. Some of this may show up in the final print, creating a unique appearance in each print.
Finishing: If after 5 minutes, the dye isn't as dark as you'd like, let it sit for another minute or two. Then take the piece inside, remove the glass, and quickly rinse the fabric in warm water (this will stop further development of the dye). Handwash your fabric with a gentle detergent such as Woolite and rinse until the excess dye is removed. Hang it up to dry, then iron the fabric when dried, trim, and frame.
I started with the white paint pen drawing on muslin. The striations that developed were from both the weave of the fabric and the condensation that formed under the glass. Note how most of the drawing has a sepia tone instead of white.
This was the second printing using the white paint pen drawing on a textured, linen like fabric. It almost feels like it has rust spots from the condensation that formed. This didn't happen on any other fabric, so I assume the texture of the fabric itself helped create this effect.
This was my last print using the white paint pen drawing. It's harder to tell in this photo, but the tone of the illustration is actually a pale blue. This is because the paint started to break down a bit by the third printing, allowing more sunlight to come through and creating a tone-on-tone effect. Note the condensation marks on this print. They came from the wrinkling of the garbage bag underneath.
This time I used a black ink drawing on muslin and eliminated the garbage bag. As you can see, the wrinkled effect completely disappears and the drawing itself has a white tone. It's also a slightly finer print than the ones created with the Sharpie paint pen.
Buy more than one bottle if you can. It's addictive!
For the most consistent results, use bright, direct sunlight outdoors.
You'll be able to use your drawings for several prints if you're careful. Even though both my paint pen and India ink said they were waterproof, I did find that they started to break down a bit after being exposed to the dye. If you're careful when you remove the glass, you will avoid smudging your design. Let the condensation dry completely. You can go back and fill in any details that may have worn down a bit. Also, you may find you're left with streaks or light patches of dye on the glass. I didn't bother trying to remove these.
Inkodye can be purchased from Dharma Trading
The botanical engravings I used were from The Graphics Fairy:
UPDATE: It appears that black Inkodye has been discontinued for the moment. Here's the explanation from Dharma Trading (and what Lumi, the makers of Inkodye, hope to accomplish in the future):