Assignment 5 (Option 1): Project 4: Developing my singular idea: Techniques trials: Cyanotype and Sun Printing

Using my singular pattern ideas from Project 3, I wanted to question in a textile way, what other ways could I produce the pattern?  What techniques were available?

As stated within previous posts, I was inspired by artists such as Becky Earley and Kate Goldsworthy:

Earley’s work to the left and Goldsworthy to the right.

Their processes are more specialist based, however I wanted to investigate ways of producing similar results, yet in achievable formats which were available to myself.  They are artists who I have researched for previous course units and also within this course.

Researching other artists who have worked with materials to take colour out of dyed fabric, Pauline Burbidge is a strong example.  Her use of Cyanotype on her quilts is particularly effective….


Reflecting on the above artists and after research, there are two techniques which I feel would be work me exploring:  Cyanotype and Solarfast (Sun Printing).

Why these methods?

I have been pleased with the results achieved through my decolourant work.  However I have to ask, have I explored the concept of fabric bleaching methods enough, when I have effectively only trialled one chemical way of doing so?  Personally I don’t think so.  In order to knowledgably decide on methods within my practice, I need to explore a variety of ways of achieving the same type of result.  Thus the need to look for other methods.

Both are workable from my home studio and to my eye, possible to produce similar results from.  However it is only on my own personal comparison of the two, that I will observe which one works best for my practice.

On research findings, I found a detailed comparison of these two methods.  Again, I have decided that I want to experience the methods rather than simply reading about them.  Yet this sheet has become useful for my own knowledge:

cyanotype facts

This has led me on to try these two techniques, which I have never tried before.

Solarfast Sun Printing

This method was exciting to myself, as I was unsure of the blue colour produced by Cyanotype.  I wanted to explore other colours too, thus found this method where there are a variety to choose from, thus I felt more in control.

There are a variety of techniques to achieve results.

The idea is to produce a pattern, have it on my PC, convert it to make a negative print and print it of a specialist acetate film.  The film is then placed upon wet painted fabric which has been coated with the Solarfast paint and leave in sunshine….

JSD9000_SolarFast-Starter-Kit-Contents-with-BoxThis is the kit I am using.  Yes I could have bought other kits, yet the solarfast method seems to have good reviews.

Within this technique sampling, I wanted to try a few of my patterns out.  Here are the ones I have chosen….

  1. My decolourant print.  paint Using a specialist website to create a negative of this, I worked on it to print a negative pattern of it:

The right image shows the conversion to black and white.  The left, shows how to convert the lines to black.  This is a vital part of the process, as the black lines will make the pattern on the fabric.

Taking the red colour of my previous samples and given the factor that I am inspired by my Red Lines poetry and the Red Riding Hood narrative, I mixed up a red solarfast dye myself and used this as the base colour.  Then overlaid the printed acetate plate on top and out in the sun it goes.

How do I feel about this result?

I wondered why I got a mottled image.  After searching information on this, I realise that I may have used too much paint on the fabric.  The printed negative pattern, also has mottled areas and is not “clean” as it were around the pattern.  Could this be a reason?

2. Own hand drawn plate.

This is where I use the same acetate plate type, along with a screen marker to black out a pattern.  As I had had no previous experience of this, I simply used the same knotted hem from the lost scarf as inspiration:

I worry that this result is weak in line density.  Too muted?  If I had blackened out more on the screen then I project I would have achieved a better print, bolder with more white areas.

3. Photo based printed plate.

I returned directly to my original source of inspiration:

scarf Using a computer programme to develop a negative print from this, along with Adobe Photoshop:


Looking back on this result, I am really happy with the tonal values and print quality.  This has by far produced the strongest result it a print context.  However I question, does it really show development?  As here I am effectively going back to the original print source inspiration, rather than using developments from that source.  This is something I will take into consideration as I expand my collection of samples.

How do I feel about my results so far?

Having investigated three types of creating a print within this parameter of Sun Print Solarfast, I can visually understand how each one works.  Having the choice of background colour, allows me variation and control, which I would not have in the Cyanotype process.  However with any of the results I realise, I have the option of being able to play with them on my PC digitally, to alter colours and hue etc through tools such as Adobe photoshop and other editing programs.  This means that whatever colour my prints end up as, I am focusing more on the print itself and how I want that to look.

I feel discontented with my first two results, as the hand drawn method was very minimal in line and the first trial came out blotchy using my decolourant pattern sheet.  Thus I would like to further examine these two, in order to analyse them in full knowledge.

  1. Decolourant sheet.

How could I make my sheet less mottled?

I have taken a risk, cutting out around the pattern with a knife and scissors, in order to leave really just the negative print…

Recalling my earlier mottled red result, in comparison with this one, I am so much happier with the result.  I took a risk as I was unsure if it would expose properly having cut away the sections.  You can see how there are parts around the pattern which are lighter, due to the acetate edges.  Yet this simply adds a new idea to the pattern itself.  I see this being one of my stronger results to take forward as the pattern itself is really clear.

2. Hand drawn stencil.

Left image shows the kit with a stencil in progress, using the marker to black out the lines.  Then the result to the right.

Yes it is better than my first attempt with this method.  However it lacks something; it still feels too safe?


Using the decolourant screen print inspired acetate negative, I began this process.

I found this method much more tricky, as exact measurements have to be obtained of two powder, in order to produce the reactive paint needed to coat the fabric.  They also need to be dried after painting, which requires forethought and patience.

My first result above.  This was using the pattern before I cut the areas out, thus the mottled effect.  I wonder what would happen if I used the cut out version I now have?

This may be worth trailing.  I learned this process through research and online films.  Some of this information has been documented in my sketchbook work.

The result you see above, is both the back and front of one piece.

Out of the two methods, the Solarfast is the easiest method to use, yet I do not have enough experience of either to decipher if I have leanings towards the results of one or the other.  This will take experience.  Yet using them at this point in my learning, quantifies a collection of new methods in my textile method resource toolbox.

 How can I extend both methods?

I wondered how I could make both methods, or rather the results achieved more timeless to use at my disposal?

Thus I began to edit on Adobe photoshop, to give myself more options visually.  I would be then able to print these out, or send the designs to a professional printers to have printed onto larger fabric than I could at home, within this digitalised format.

Above:  Cyanotype outcome, with Adobe used to change the contrast and complexity of the hue and saturation.  Thus a variety of colour choices could be produced.

Below:  The favoured Solarfast photo print:

I still question inwardly if this is too close to the original design inspiration point, thus not conveying progression.  However visually I can observe how it does make for a well presented piece.

Plan from this point?

To continue exploring my prints, with a design led approach.  I find myself wanting to actually not print more in a physical context, but rather expand on the digital potential.  What could these patterns become?  Could they stay as flat printed sheets, or in the future could they become prints for clothing or home?

Could I extend one or two of these samples in a digital format, to create a “template” to print on a large scale?  Something which could be repeated in some way?

Admittedly due to not having lessons in using digital software, my own knowledge does only go so far.  Thus I have found in the past sometimes when thinking about things in a digital format, such as the work I produced through my second assignment of this course, more challenging.  I.E.  Seamless repeat patterns.  However I see other ways around this to overturn this potential stumbling block.  For example this mirror version:


This could become a scarf pattern, simply printed like this onto a large cloth at a professional printers.  Made within Adobe photoshop, this is a four part mirror print, using my original decolourant screen print version.  I may expand on this within my sketchbook work and through another blog post in the future, as I guide myself through the selection and creation of final sample making.

Finally, another attempt at Cyanotype:

After pondering on this, I did not feel I have tried this method enough.  Thus I wanted to create another sample:

Left:  The pattern (saved from the rain) as it begins to “cook” and right, after rinsing.  I am amazed still at the colour change.  With this print, it has turned out differently to what I would expect.  What do I mean by this?  I thought that it would keep the detail of the pattern as seen in the left hand in-progress image.  Yet it has actually simplified the design, which I really like.  It has in effect made a new pattern for myself!  Pondering on this surprise outcome, what it suggests to myself, is the value of experimentation and trying new ways of doing in effect the same thing.  I could have stuck with the decolourant, yet I would never have got this exact result or have been then qualified to compare techniques and methods.

My aim is to now use this print, amongst others I choose as my strongest work to develop in a “resolved samples” post, which will be included as a part of my blog.



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