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.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sun Printing with Paint

Lynda here again. The very first time I sun printed fabric I used cheap fabric paint. Since I didn't know any better, I thought it was pretty cool. That was 4 years ago.

My first attempt at sun printing on fabric

Since then I've done quite a bit of sun printing and am partial to a couple products. But I thought for my post this week I'd revisit the paint, but this time use good fabric paint and screen printing ink. I was pretty surprised at the results.

I decided to paint both pieces of fabric with similar colors and fern placement so that I could get a good comparison.

So let's get started. After covering my work surface with plastic, I mixed up my paints - one set of Jacquard Textile Paint and the other Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink. You can use the paints full strength for a real dark color, but I mixed them a little with water. How much water is up to you. I've mixed them half and half and various combinations. However, I like my pieces darker so I tend to mix with less water.

Screen printing inks mixed and ready to use
While I was mixing the paints, my fabric has been sitting in water. It's important that the fabric stay moist. Once the paints were ready, I squeezed my fabric to get most of the water out of it, and spread it on my table smoothing it to get out the wrinkles.

Once I was happy with my fabric, it was time to start painting. I use sponge brushes for this. If you are painting in the sun you need to work fast so the paint doesn't dry. However, I keep a spray bottle with water nearby to keep the fabric moist.

After I'm happy with the painting job, I add masks. These can be botanicals, stencils, lace, wood cutouts, or whatever you'd like to use to make a design on this fabric.  (I've tried using plastic ferns and they don't work. First of all, they won't lay flat on the fabric. I tried putting a piece of glass over them to keep them down and that did not work at all!!) Whatever you are using as a mask needs to be able to be flat on the fabric so it blocks out the sun.

As I put my ferns down, I use a little more paint to help them adher to the fabric.

After I'm done with the placement of the masks,  I check to see that the ferns are flat on the fabric.  I usually help that process with with a little spray from my water bottle. If the ferns or whatever you are using aren't flush against the fabric, you won't get a really clean print. 

Once I'm happy with my design,  it's time for the sun to do it's thing.

Left: textile paints; Right: Screen printing inks

Now is the hardest part - waiting for the fabric to dry!

I'll be back tomorrow with the results.


  1. Funny project, and well explained. I'm curious about the result. What kind of fabric did you use?

  2. I hate to wait... let's see the results :)

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  4. Eke, the first piece I sun printed several years ago was on muslin. The new pieces are on pfd white fabric. I dye a lot of fabric so use what I have. It's 100% cotton. However, You can use any fabric. Of course, light or white color is best.

  5. can't wait to see the results. I have the speedball inks...never thought about using them!!


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