One of my current projects is to update and improve my skills at transferring images onto fabric. I’m also working on my ability to put text onto fabric, which often amounts to the same set of techniques, give or take. The practical applications of this range from simply being able to make labels for art pieces through to being able to integrate my photography more fully into my work in a wide variety of funky ways.
I have actually done some of this before. My preferred method of putting images and word processing text onto fabric is using Bubblejet Set 2000. It’s a bit time-consuming and can be messy. Not to mention that the chemicals are probably not great for you. Still, it does a fabulous job, is mostly fool-proof and doesn’t change the “hand” of the fabric. (For those of you who don’t live in the fibre world, the hand of the fabric is how it feels, needles and handles. Sometimes doing things to fabric makes it stiff and hard to sew through.)
Lately, because I’ve been working on a combination of machine-stitched art pieces and art books, I’ve been wishing I had more of an array of techniques at my fingertips and my needs as regards the hands’ of fabric have not been as exacting. I’m not particularly happy with iron-on t-shirt transfers, as they tend to die as they dry out and are both shiny and slightly tacky feeling (they retain dog fur, which is a bad thing in this house).
So I’ve been experimenting with acrylic medium transfers and other fun techniques. Thus far I’ve steered clear of things requiring scary chemicals, mainly out of concern for Katherine and because the studio looks like a bomb misfired in it. Adding toxins to a minefield didn’t strike me as the best of ideas. So I’m tidying it today and planning materials and techniques. Found a fabulous link on image transfer techniques that basically outlines most of them.
Text is a slightly different phenomenon, as you can either manipulate it onto paper and use one of the image transfer processes, or you can whack it straight on there with pens, paint, stamps, ink and brushes. Basically, you can do it all up ahead of time and “copy” it onto fabric, or you can go for a one-off straight onto fabric. I’m playing with this latter technique, having satisfied myself with Bubblejet Set and my printer in the past. My current experiement with text involves stabilising it with freezer paper and fooling around with ink and stamps. Also trying out calligraphy and seeing how the ink flows. Might have to thicken it slightly. Also going to try to see how thinned out fabric paints handle using calligraphy nibs.
Results to follow, as I photograph them!