A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

More Sunprinting from the Gardens

Sue A, again today...  Showing you how I use flowers from my gardens for my sunprints, and a few other goodies I play with.
June 2014 Painting Setup

This post will show some printing I did just a few days ago. Due to circumstances beyond my control (getting very sick and getting a new roof on our home last summer), this is the first I have played with paint on fabric in nearly 2 years. It definitely felt great "slinging" paint again!  For now, I am just using a sun umbrella for added shade to work under.. if all goes well, I will be putting up the "Big Top" soon so I can print and paint much easier out here.
Various Paints, Confetti and Foamie shapes

This photo, left, shows some of the different paints I play with. The first paints I ever used for sunprints were Versatex Air Brush Inks, just because I had them on hand for a different type of project. They worked great, and I was hooked!  I also play with Lumiere, Dye-Na-Flow, Textile paints, and Super Sparkle by Jacquard; a bit of Setacolor (the best gold metallic); Liquitex pearl medium; and random craft paints. I mix my own colors of the Dye-Na-Flow and textile paints. Also in the photo are a couple kinds of mylar confetti and a bunch of shapes cut from thin craft foam sheets.
Flowers nearby for resists...

This photo shows some of my flower victims subjects waiting to be used as resists in my printing.  I tend to fill the planters near my front door with flowers that I like to use for printing, so they are handy to work with. Later in Summer, I will have tall garden Phlox that I love to use, but now, I will pull mostly from the planters. "Weeds" from nearby fields also work very well, such as various Daisies, Queen Ann's Lace, and more.

First application of paint...

First, the wet fabric is smoothed onto a paint board. Notice this one hasn't been cleaned from a previous session... Later you will see that none of the old paint stuck to the new fabric.  The first brush-fulls of paint are applied... I have moved on from just straight diagonal lines to swooshes on the diagonal... For this piece, I will just use this purple color in various shades.

Look what water drops do to the paint!

The lighter shades are achieved just by emptying the brush of color and adding a bit of water if needed... The more water, the lighter the color will be.  This color was mixed from the Dye-Na-Flow paints, which give deep, rich colors with very little added feel of the paint.  Spritzing with the spray bottle keeps the paint wet, and also adds some patterning as well as encourages running and blending of the colors.

Patting the Fern tight to the wet paint.

Once the fabric is painted, the leaves and other goodies are added...  Notice in the photo, left, that the fern doesn't want to lie flat on the paint right away even though it has been pressed ahead of time... It needs to be patted onto the fabric where the moisture will keep it flat.  I keep a damp rag nearby to clean the paint of my fingertips during the placing and patting to keep from moving colors where I don't want them... Not so important on a monochromatic piece, but splots of random colors don't look so great on multicolored pieces.

For this piece, I want to create a few arrangements with Ferns, other leaves and flowers.  In this photo, right, I have placed a second fern and then added some Maple and Ginkgo leaves around the first Fern.
Choosing flowers.

The next step is to choose my flower victims subjects from the  planters. I love the star shape of the Nicotiana, or Flowering Tobacco, flowers.  Please pardon the camera strap in the photo.... oops!

Cut Nicotiana flower.

Flowers such as these, with long tube shapes need to have the backs cut off before using them... This will keep them from being picked up by a breeze during the drying process...

Patting down the flower.

Just as was done with the Fern, the flowers need to be carefully patted down onto the wet paint.  It is best to roll your finger off the petals to keep them from sticking to it.  I have had many little flowers perfectly placed, only to lift my finger and find the flower stuck to it.  Most of the flowers I use will lay flat with just a little bit of patting. Some may need  to wilt slightly before they stay put.  Unfortunately, most are too fragile to press ahead of time.

Verbena flowers.

The victim subject for the second arrangement is a cluster of Verbena florets. These are also tube backed flowers, so they also get cut to keep them from becoming sails in the breeze.

Verbena florets being cut off.

I cut the florets into a pile next to my fabric, hoping they don't blow away before I get them onto the paint.  While I am working, I keep spritzing my fabric to keep the paint wet, but not too sloppy... You will notice the shading of the colors change as things progress.

Paint beginning to dry.

Verbena florets and some Mulberry leaves in place around the second fern. I also added a couple Vinca flowers with some tiny Fern pieces to the upper left and some Cinquefoil leaves across the top.  The last to be added were some tiny mylar confetti butterflies.  I am always looking out for confetti shapes. I never know what I will find!  You can see how the colors are separating a bit as the paint dries... Paint never dries the same way twice... so much fun!!

Partly dried paint with water drops added.

This photo, left shows what happens when water is spritzed on the partially dried paint... The water droplets lighten the areas they land on.  When the paint is still wet, these spots will even out as the paint moves around, but once a bit dry, they will stay. I will often spritz my pieces a number of times to be sure I get a bit of this mottling. It adds so much interest!

Fern and Verbena done.

Here is the fern with the Verbena florets. It has dried and some of the leaves have been removed. See how the flowers shrank while in the sun??  If I am lucky, I can get two uses out of some fresh flowers, but these only lasted through one.

First Fern arrangement finished.

This photo, left, shows the first arrangement finished... See how the red color stayed in some areas and in others, it moves all the way out? Red  tends to stay the most when used less diluted. It still results in very interesting prints.

Following are a few more photos just with captions showing a couple more pieces I did this same day.


"My" Blue, Pink and Green first painted on.
Mulberry leaves and foam shapes added.

Two pieces in the sun.

Dried Blue Pink Green with some items removed.

Notice how the paint changes in look from first being applied to when it is dry... The wetter the fabric, the more running, bleeding and blending that happens...  The sharp contrasts and lines soften a lot.

Green metallic craft paint thinned.

Crispy fern  moved from purple fabric.

The third piece I did was in all green, using some of the metallic craft paint in green and copper added.  The craft paints work best when thinned to the consistency of cream.  The photo above, right, shows one of the ferns after being removed from the first piece and placed on the green. It was a bit too dry, so I spritzed it with water so that it would soften and lie flat on the new paint.  If doing a lot of printing on a good day, moving things from a dry piece to a wet one makes things go faster. I don't have to think about how I want to arrange things again.  I did have to use new flowers for most of the Verbenas.

Blue, Pink, Green showing sparkles.

I tried to catch the sparkle of the pearlecent medium I painted on over the colors, before adding the leaves and foamies for this piece. It's really hard to catch the shimmer with the camera. You also can see that the fabric is nice and soft  and drapes nicely even before heat setting with the iron...

This photo shows the blue, pink green piece being peeled from the board... The fabric sticks tight to the boards during the drying... this keeps it nice and flat and keeps the breezes from blowing the dried fabrics away.  The only time I worry about paint transfer from the boards is when I do a scrunch patterned fabric. When the wet, painted fabric is pushed on top of the old paint, some will then transfer to the new piece...

Finished Green and Purple pieces that used the same leaves and most of the flowers.

The photo above shows both the green and purple pieces side by side. Even with the same leaves used, the designs are not identical.. The air was also less humid by the time I did the green piece... Here in NE PA, conditions change from hour to hour, and on the best printing days I only have about 3 to 4 hours tops to get good prints on a good day, less other times.  Prints done in more humid conditions take longer to dry, and the results are  much more variable...  That makes sunprinting so addicting!!  The results are nearly always a surprise!! 

Go out and have some fun in the sun!   Tomorrow, I will show you a few more fabrics I have done and some finished pieces I have made from them.


  1. These are just beautiful! One of my good friend and a art quilter herself introduced me to your blog.

    Coming from:

    We did some sun printing last week and it was so much fun!

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  3. Your detailed explanations are really great and you're on-the spot photos are a testament to multi-tasking! Another great post!

  4. Wha-a-a-a-at? I can use my Jacquard and Dye-Na-Flow paints for sun printing? What is this deviltry? I thought I had to buy paints specifically for sun printing (so, I did) and now you have exploded my palette and my options exponentially? I LURVE YOU!!!

  5. Can't decide if the green or purple is my favorite piece! Guess I'll just take them both! :)

  6. So glad to be of help! :) And YES, I've played with all kinds of paint, and it really really works! Such FUN!!


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