Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Bridging shapes and printing

Especially when I'm beginning a new train of thought I seem to have several things in progress at the same time. One simmers away in the back of my brain while I work away at another. I find this very helpful.

At the moment, as well as completing all sorts of stitch trials some of which I've blogged about since Christmas, I am playing with ways of using the photos of the lovely white iron footbridge over the Delaware River that I took when I visited Pennsylvania last September (posted here on my return).

I found the shadows cast on the bridge deck quite mesmerising. They were so complete; the sun was hot and the light intense and from exactly the right angle to cast the shadows along the whole length of the bridge.

I took many photos some of which I have since cropped. rotated and printed out onto A4 paper. I have now cut them up and am trying out various arrangements to see how I can produce some stitch work exploiting the design qualities of the images and the perspective of the bridge.

This, in paper, is the first that I've felt I wanted to keep and work on, although I think there are still issues to resolve with the design - and many to resolve when I come to working in fabric.

Not the least of these problems is the best and simplest way of getting the images onto the cotton ground that I have in mind. I need to decide on the way to print (or have it printed) so that it won't fade or be damaged if it becomes damp. I know from previous experience that, although I can print straight onto cotton quite successfully using my inkjet printer, the result is neither light fast nor damp proof and it can be easily damaged.

The second thing that is concerning me is how to print it so I'm not left with a horrible firm surface to stitch into. I've found that treating the cotton ground before stitching generally leaves the fabric unpleasant in the hand and many commercial processes seem to do the same thing.

I have just found a printer locally who is willing to print cotton for me and the process he uses seems to leave the fabric fairly soft. I plan to give it a go and see what happens.

I am also investigating the purchase of  a much better printer for use in my textiles - though I have yet to find quite the right thing. I like the thought of having the printer available so I can print spontaneously and quickly and would love to find something that would print on fabric to a good quality. Silk screen and block printing don't seem to offer the speed and spontaneity I'm after, though I'm considering those too.

All helpful suggestions would be most gratefully received - especially on available printers that meet my needs - and that are not crazily expensive!



12 comments:

  1. I'm afraid that I can be of no help re printers as I inherited mine a couple of years ago. I do agree with you preferring to have the means of printing on the spot - it makes progress so much better all round.
    I look forward to hearing about the results from your local commercial printer.

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    1. Thank you for your reply, Olga. I'm sure I will need to do some more research on printers. May I ask you some questions? What printer were you lucky enough to inherit and what ink does it use? - pigment ink? From the research I've done, that seems to be required to prevent fading. Do you know if I'm right?
      I will post the results from my local commercial printer once I'm satisfied with my image.

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    2. Margaret, I am very old fashioned now - I started my printing on fabric in the early days of the new century. Anyway, the printers I have both for paper and for cloth (bought from Craft Computer Papers) are a Canon iP4600 which is A4, and an Epson Stylus Photo 2100 which goes up to A3+. Yes pigment ink is necessary. The inks are expensive, and any increase in saturation uses up more ink.

      As a couple of asides: I have not used them simply because they started up after I had begun having my work done in Macclesfield, but quilt maker Laura Kemshall runs Fingerprint digital print services - http://www.fingerprintfabric.com/ They seem to be much more initially user friendly than my outfit who are really set up for couture work.

      Also, if like me you like to read around a subject, there is a book entitled Digital Art Studio, Techniques for combining Inkjet Printing with Traditional Art Materials: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Digital-Art-Studio-Techniques-Traditional/dp/0823013421/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423217581&sr=1-1&keywords=Digital+art+studio

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    3. Olga - very many thanks for your reply above. All your links are most helpful, not the least of which is the book which I've just ordered with a very timely birthday Amazon voucher.
      I will also have a proper look the websites you mention. I have a feeling you recommended the Laura Kemshall one to me once before but I couldn't find your comment with the reference when I was looking last weekend so thank you very much for repeating it. I usually save particularly useful comments in my inbox but some things have got lost in the transfer to my new PC set up.
      Lots to explore - I really do appreciate your comments and those of all the people who take the trouble to post here. Good wishes, Margaret

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  2. I now use an Epson 3000 which is an A3 printer but I had an Epson A4 for many years until it died. Excellent printing results from both and they use pigment inks which are a must for printing on fabric that won't be washed. I've had a piece on my wall since 2009 and no fading at all. With any printing on fabric you will probably need to increase the saturation and maybe a levels adjustment.

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    1. Your comments are very helpful indeed, Maggi. Many thanks. I've looked at the Epson 3000 and it does look very inviting - particularly because of its pigment inks and its ability to print A3. I am very tempted but as it involves a significant financial outlay I felt a survey of fellow stitchers was needed before I commit myself! It's reassuring to hear how well it seems to perform on fabric. I will let you know what I decide.

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  3. Good topic Margaret !
    I use a simple printer (Brother) that just prints in black and I use it on br. paper ... no issues yet. I'll be watching to see what you end up getting ;)

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    1. I've been printing my images on paper via our trusty HP inkjet printer for years with no trouble - especially as my paper printouts usually only get used as trials and aren't exposed much to sunlight. Now my work using my own prints onto fabric has increased a lot and a few have been sold, I think it's time to move onto something more sophisticated.

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  4. Love how this potential piece is looking. I use a Canon All-in-One printer with regular (not pigment) inks, and pre-treat my fabrics with Bubble Jet Set 2000. Has always worked for me. My art quilts would never be washed or otherwise get wet, but the BJS does make the print water resistant, if not water proof. I've also had no problem with fading. But I've been good about making sure sunlight never hits quilts with digiprinted fabrics on them.

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    1. Thanks, Connie. I will certainly have another look at Bubble Jet Set 2000 and similar products. I tried them when I first got into all this stitching and found they made the fabric rather tough to work ... but maybe I was just over-sensitive. I think I need to give it another try.

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  5. I too recommend looking into Epson's line of Pigment ink printers. I ended up purchasing one from the Workforce line, having to make do with the 13" wide carriage although you can get carriages much wider. Not only could I not justify the monetary outlay of one of those even if I had that much money to throw around, I don't have the space to accommodate the larger size. I barely have room for this workforce 1100. I have been very happy with it though, both in how accurately the colors print to how well they stand up on fabric.

    I've not tried them myself, but many people have recommended the company Spoonflower to me for printing larger widths and lengths of fabric. Apparently they have a variety of base fabrics to choose from (not just cotton) and work from your digital files.

    As for Bubble Jet set - I've used that too with a regular inkjet printer, it does not change the hand of the fabric, but it will not make the ink light fast. I've seen an essentially black and grey photo printed on jet set treated cotton slowly fade into greenish tones. I've heard other artists comment that quilts returned from shows will sometimes show the jet set printed parts faded out due to exposure to florescent lighting. I just wouldn't trust it anymore for the long term and for anything I'd be exhibiting and/or selling.

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    1. How helpful your long reply is - thank you very much for all the comments you make. I'm seriously thinking about an Epson printer but I want to investigate all the alternatives before I make such a big spend. I will take a look at the Workforce range. It was new to me and might fit possibly the bill instead of the big 3000. I will also take a look at Spoonflower in addition to Olgas' (above) advice about Laura Kemshall. Your last point about Bubble Jet Set is particularly helpful as I hadn't realised it didn't prevent fading. I think you just ruled it out for me.
      Very many thanks for everything, Margaret

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