South African soy and sunshine
Now I know sun printing is not new - I have tried this fun technique before, when I made the small quilt named 'A Faithful Hand' (above right) using Pebeo Setacolor paints. When I first tried the technique I was amazed at how simple yet effective it was. Just by covering fabric with the paint then allowing it to dry in the sun with a solid object placed on the fabric (in this case a stencil I cut from cardboard) I created a beautiful piece of fabric to work with. However, I discovered one major problem with the paints once the piece was finished. Although I had heat set the fabric (well, I thought I had heat set the fabric), when I came to block the quilt the mist of water I sprayed over the surface sent the blue and orange paint running in all directions. As you can imagine - after completing all that stitching I was not happy!!!!
Lesson learned: Follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter when you heat set your work, and then check and double check to ensure it is heat set properly before you continue.
Anyway, after that misadventure, my love affair with the process stopped. Until now.
Thinking back to some of the things I have seen on my travels, I have seen soy milk used as a binder when used with mud (yes, mud!) to colour fabric. Not understanding the process, I began researching the use of mud and soy as a traditional method of adding colour to fabric. As it turns out the soy milk acts as a very effective 'binder' - in a similar way that a mordant works with other natural dyes. Apparently that is why babies that are fed on soy milk have bibs that never come clean!
The thing with soy milk is that it needs time to do its job - and the longer you leave it, the better the results. So, back in March, before I left the South African sunshine, I decided to try out a new idea.....
sun dyeing with paint and soy milk
Once the fabric is completely dry (and now a little crispy) you remove the mask and you will find a blank patch on the fabric where it was placed. So far so good - the sun print has now been created. With the Pebeo paints you now need to iron the fabric to fix the paint - that is where it went wrong for me. Because I was trying the soy milk binder the proteins in the soy milk needed time to naturally break down and bind with the fabric, so I needed to pack them away and wait. I believe 3 or so weeks is long enough - but I have not experimented with this to discover. In my case I have waited a little over 4 months (time flies!!) and this is what I discovered.
When I plunged the fabrics into hot soapy water nothing happened! No bleeding of colour, no paint washing out into the water, NOTHING!! The colour was now completely fixed. Whether that is due 100% to the soy milk I do not know for certain, but what I do know is that it worked really well. Here are some of the results.
So - some interesting discoveries. I am not sure I will follow through with this much further at the moment - but it is always interesting to explore ideas and experiment with different ways to do things. Who knows what might come of it in the future, and what soy milk could also be mixed with to yield interesting fabric to work with.
Thanks for reading.