September 12, 2010

Freeform Screen Printing -2-

The following screen prints are part of my homework for the second lesson of "Freeform Screen Printing".
My description is not a complete course. I recommend following the on-line course given by Lyric Kinard at Quilt University.

The masking tape trial:

Masking tape can act as a resist in a one screen print session.

While doing this task, I wanted also to experiment making a multi-coloured print.
First I printed with purple and waited until the paint had dried. Then I covered some of the dry areas with newspaper and checked the backside of the screen for spilled paint. The next paint pull was done with red.
I repeated these last two steps while positioning the screen at different places to get an interesting surface design:

masking tape as a resist

Playing with a found object:

My found object, a sequin waste or punchanella (thanks to Wil I now know the name) looked interesting as a re-usable resist, but it was difficult to get a good print.
I had to do several pulls to get the paint through the holes and on the fabric. To help the paint transfer better I added some water and mixed it before applying to the screen:

found object as a resist
found object,
the sequin waste or punchanella

Experience with a masking film:

Paint resists like stencils can be made from masking film. They are reusable, at least until the glue from the masking film does not stick anymore. As a substitute for the masking film mentioned in lesson 2 I used Low Tak. Low Tak is mainly used by airbrush artists. It peels off with ease and does not stretch.

For the multi-coloured butterfly pattern I had in mind I had to cut two stencils; number 1 for the background of the wings and the antennae and number 2 for the wing patterns and the butterfly's body.

To make the butterflies I followed almost the same process as for the masking tape, with a tiny adjustment regarding the placement of stencil 2.

First I used stencil 1 for printing the light green butterflies.
Not cleaning the screen from the green paint, I spooned some blue paint on the screen and printed the blue-green ones. I left the fabric to dry, just pinned down and cleaned the screen a bit, but left stencil 1 on the screen.


For a nearly perfect placement I sticked stencil 2 (the one with the wing patterns and the butterfly's body) on the fabric on top of the print made with stencil 1.
Looking at the outlines of both stencils I could place the screen with stencil 1 on top of the stencil 2 and do a pull with a contrasting colour.

I finger blended a bit sparkling Lumière fabric paint from Jacquard in some of the wing patterns. I repeated this procedure for every butterfly.
During the process I kept carefully covering up the spots still wet with absorbing paper, placed newspaper against ghost printing and checked the back of the screen for spilled paint:


Instead of fabric paints, I used on all three tasks thickened dyes to experiment with. I love working with them!
It feels less stressful, because they will not clog the screen. Although preparation time takes a bit longer, using thickened dyes is very rewarding.

While I soda-soak the fabric, I mix print paste with stock dye solutions. Thickened dyes have a relatively short drying time, a pleasant property when working towards a multi-coloured print.
The results are above my expectations. The transparency on light coloured fabric is beautiful. Cleaning the screen from thickened dyes is done in a breeze.

You can find the recipe for thickened dyes in several books about dyeing and also online at Paula Burch's All About Hand Dyeing.

I used already mixed print paste without added soda and had to soda-soak the fabric first.
Living on the main land of Europe I ordered the print paste and the Low Tak in Germany.

Thank you for your visit!

More information:
Already mixed print paste:


  1. Really good results Geni. The butterfly has worked well. I prefer the thickened dyes too and they don't change the hand of the fabric.

  2. Hi Geni,

    Thanks so much for the grand tutorial. I have a lot to learn when it comes to fabric painting. I will refer to your post again. I do love the way the butterflies turned out.


  3. Thanks, Geni! Your descriptions and pictures really help me as a (novice) art quilter. Going to try some of these!

  4. I love those butterflies! Great colors!


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