Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunprinting, Chapter 2

On the left, two sunprinted fabrics; on the right, the same
image on paper.
If you read my last post, you'll see how I used the sun to print the images of my grandmother you see here. Since you can only really see the quality of the printed image after it has completely dried, I waited. It's winter, and my drying rack is next to my furnace, so I didn't have to wait very long! I ironed the fabric and had a look.

The same image printed twice. On the left, no clamped glass was used.
As you can see in the picture, above, I ended up making two prints on fabric. Why? Because I forgot a crucial step in obtaining a crisp print, especially when using transparencies, and especially in the winter: I forgot to cover my fabric with a piece of clear glass clamped in place. The resulting blurry print on the left is blurry, in part, because I failed to clamp the glass on top, making a secure contact print. (It's also blurry because I did not iron the fabric flat enough before printing it.) After it dried, I realized my omission, and immediately reprinted the image, as you see on the right. The result? Even though my fabric is old, when printed correctly, it still gave me a decent print. That has been my experience over the 25 years I have used this process, and is also why I never hesitate to buy yardage when purchasing pre-treated fabrics.

The same image on treated paper.
While I was at it, I grabbed an old but unopened package of treated sunprinting paper I picked up at a recent library sale. These are the Super Sunprint Kits often found in museum stores. I clamped the glass on top of the paper as described in my last post, opened my sliding back door, and let it sit on the threshold dangling over the snow to catch the sun. It was later in the day, and it was dangling, so you can see that there was still some blurring that occurred as a result of the position of the sun and the minor movement of the substrate the paper was clamped onto. I got one very clear print on paper, and the two blurry ones are interesting, and will still be used. You may notice that the print on this text-weight paper is not as dark as on fabric.

The print on the left is on fabric. On the right, is a print
on high quality watercolor paper.
Each surface gives a slightly different effect. Notice how the contrast is increased on the watercolor paper print here. When rinsed, the background reverts to white, and since the image I used had a lot of negative space, it produced a crisp print.

Mother Shrine uses a sunprint.
In Mother Shrine, the cyanotype print on fabric of my mother is also in high contrast. The difference between this one and the watercolor paper print is that the image of my mother is printed on fuschia fabric instead of white or aqua, therefore the contrast is lessened, though the image is still clear.

You may be wondering where the variety of pre-treated fabrics and paper come from. Although you can purchase cyan printing chemicals and treat your papers and fabrics yourself, I have always ordered mine from Blueprint Printables. They have been around longer than anyone else, have consistently high quality products, and great customer service. You can even send them yardage of your own fabrics to treat. Tune in next time to see some examples of that, and about how to turn a cyan print to sepia.
Cyan print on the left; on the right, a cyan print on watercolor
paper turned sepia. It's really easy!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunprinting, Chapter 1

The transparency of my grandma and me.
I woke up this morning, a cold winter day in Cleveland, and the sun was shining brightly. I got excited, but not for the reasons you might think. I have been waiting for a day to do some sunprinting, and, even in the winter, today was the day.

I got up and quickly pulled a few items together. I have been working on a piece about my grandmother. Usually, I run to Kinko's or Office Max to get a negative transparency made, usually two of the same image to be sure the sunlight is thoroughly blocked in the dark areas. This time, I wanted to try printing it out on my very old inkjet printer, and happened to have a compatible transparency to use. It came out pretty well.

Although I want to try the newly reformulated Liquid Light, i.e. Jacquard Solar Fast, I already have some, albeit very old, pre-treated sunprinting fabric. I cut a piece to size in the dark, quickly ironed it in the dark, then pinned it to a board with the negative transparency on top. To take it all outside, I placed a piece of plain paper on top to keep the fabric from being exposed too much while I moved it.
The transparency pinned to the
sunprinting fabric
Everything covered with plain paper

I checked the timer feature on my phone, then ran out into the garage, where the sun was shining right into the doorway. In this part of the country in the winter, the sun is low and not as bright, so sunprinting can take a bit longer. On a hot summer day, 3 minutes of exposure is plenty. Today, I allowed 4 minutes, and checked it before allowing another half a minute. The only variable here is that my fabric is very, very old, so the print may not come out as desired. I also did not use a double transparency sandwich, so I may get a lighter print. No matter. I am seizing the moment! The print is drying now, so stay tuned to see how it turned out.
Yes, sunprinting in snow weather!
After exposure, the print is "set" by rinsing it in
lukewarm water until the water runs clear. Here
is the fabric on the drying rack. One it is rinsed,
it is "set". You can't wash out what was there. At
the drying stage, it may look like nothing happened.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

New Year New Schedule

My sketch of oranges, inspired by a postcard Jill brought
to art night.
I have been having a lot of fun with my new schedule this year. With the support of my art group friends Jill Milenski and Gail Crum, I spent the first few weeks of this year reorganizing my schedule. Last year I did quite a bit more sketching, thanks to Jill's influence. She is such an amazing painter, that seeing her work on a regular basis inspires me.
Gail and I co-taught several classes together at Small Studio, and since we meet nearly every Monday night, we are constantly interacting and supporting each other's goals. Gail excels at her assemblage work, and it is fascinating to work together with her each week, since our approaches are quite different. All in all, meeting together regularly has helped all of us be more productive.
Among other things, my new schedule includes taking at least 10 minutes to write in my journal, and 10 minutes to make a sketch. What fun!