Ink and Fabric

I notice that I’ve been rapidly making clothing.  It has been a very focused activity first to fit pants, then ensure I had sufficient hot weather clothing and then to fit blouses. I’m sure someone would see some obsessive behavior but to me it had a work-like zen I.E. at work I would be assigned tasks. I would keep a To-Do list of  prioritized tasks and then work at completing one right after the other.  I did the same with my sewing this summer.  Looking back, I was completing a garment within 2- 3 days sometimes a few more when I wasn’t at home. I’m still not happy with my process for fitting tops. Oh I can make them fit, but I have to work at it.  I want a simple, straight forward process.  I want to be able to sew the garment mostly together, stopping to tweak fit when the sides are basted together and easily finishing it off. I want to focus on embellishments, fabric manipulations, color and a little art. So I’m taking a break from fitting to explore Inks

I loved the vibrant color from using Derwent’s InkTense pencils. But I really labored to complete my project

InkTense Vest

Especially with that fabric. It had a rough texture. I needed to scrub my pencil into the fabric to transfer the pigment into the cracks and crevasses of the fabric. What seemed like a doable project when testing, turned out to need a lot of fortitude (or maybe an obsessive personality?) and strength.  I love the end effect, but would not use the Inktense pencils so extensively in the future.  I turned to paints which were much easier on the hands and arms, but I don’t seem to be able to develop the vibrant color possible with  the Inktense pencils.  Yet I was reluctant to buy bottles of ink.  I picked them up. Held them in my hands.  I put them back on the shelf.  I looked at different inks at the sites I like to buy from: DharmaTradingco and DickBlick art supplies. But I never put any into the basket. I know inks are very liquid.  The ones I used for calligraphy seemed more liquid than water. I didn’t know how to control liquid inks when applied to fabric; and then Fons and Porter had a special show featuring Joyce Drexler’s  son (dang! Can’t remember his name).  He is an artist in his own right and (probably because of his mother’s influence) has developed skills with fabric, needle and thread. I’ve seen several of his demonstrations creating digitized designs, free-motion embroider and even quilting.  In this particular show he demonstrated using ink to fabric paint.  He demonstrated a particular Japanese ink which I can’t pronounce, can’t spell and therefore can’t Google. Of particular interest to me was that he used a medium to control the fluidity of the ink.  He used Aloe Vera gel.  Yep,  the stuff you can find for $1.89 right in Walmart.  Didn’t even have to look for it on the Internet. Walmart’s Artist/craft inks, however, are crap.  So in my next regular order to CreateforLess, I purchased a set of 3 Ranger Adirondack inks.

I got to work.  I pulled out a cream-colored Jacquard napkin for testing.  I learned long ago not to use white, cream or light colors for actual napkins.  We stain them horribly. I am not willing to do the work required to remove the staining.  These cream napkins were in a box of fabrics purchased at a garage sale.  I paid $7 for several 2-3 yard pieces of wool, silk, red and white tulle, and a lovely cream Jacquard.  The napkins had been folded up inside the Jacquard fabric.  (What a sneaky way to get rid of scraps, eh?) While I won’t use the napkins as napkins, I have no issues using them for testing.  In fact, I think they are ideal for this particular testing.  I wanted to see what it took to control the application of inks.  The Jacquard napkins are absorbent – a drop of water spreads- and there is patterning which I can use as a ready-made  outline to paint within.

I use trash plastic for pallets. It’s one of the few things I do green, so don’t get too excited.  I squirted out some Aloe Vera and then added drops of yellow ink.  I mixed the paint with another trash product, ice cream sticks from the many popsicles vanquished at my house this summer— and started painting.  I did change brushes.  My designs are small, so smaller sized brushes (2,3,4) added more control.Also I decided to test all three ink colors because I looked into my box of paints and noted other paint mediums that might work.
I used the yellow with Aloe Vera, Purple and Delta’s Textile Medium, the orange was added to glycerine (another Walmart purchase) and then I decided to use the Liquitex heavy gel.  I didn’t paint too well with the orange and decided to try to correct by dipping a clean brush in alcohol and trying to pick up the excess paint.  I’d say that’s a no-go.  The the little orange dot looked much better before I tried correcting it.   The Liquitex heavy gel produced modeling paste.  It’s not shown in this test because it was necessary to apply the heavy gel with a popsicle stick.  I didn’t want texture. I wanted vibrant color. I won’t say that I’ll never use the heavy gel, but I’ve tightly capped it because when I finally do need that stiff of a product, I’d like mine to still be usable and not all dried out.  I did think that the glycerine was still too liquid of a medium for my purpose.  The textile medium added a chalky effect to the ink which I’d never noticed when adding to acrylic paint.  None of these mediums is WRONG or BAD.  They could all have their uses.  I want to keep in mind their strengths for future uses  even though their strengths are exactly why I won’t be using them for the planned project.

What I have in mind:
is adding vibrant color to the fabric above. My fabric is a light-to-medium weight cotton duck.  I’ve found this weight to be comfortable all year-long. During cold weather I need to add sleeves and sweaters.  During hot weather I need short, cap or sleeveless tops. Same fabric, just a few adjustments to make it work with the prevalent weather.  I also like this weight of duck cloth for pants. But I like my pants to be plain or striped with light or low contrast colors.  So this will be a top because of its print.  It will be cap or short sleeves because of its length.

I enjoyed adding color to my first project above.  I’m looking forward to adding vibrant color to this project, but using an easier to apply product. Thanks to Joyce’s son,  Eric Drexler and Tsukineko Ink (found it on Love of Quilting  show 1907), you made it possible for me to work on this next project.

Categories: Ink