Wednesday, 11 December 2013

In my studio: breakdown printing

Printed using the rubbing plates

The last few weeks I have been busy making use of my new screen.  It is years since I have done any printing but it seems the right technique at the moment for creating cloth to make work from.
Breakdown printed

I’ve been using thickened dyes more and more and have little parcels of rolled fabric in plastic on my studio floor whilst the dye sets into the fabric.  I had a very cheap roll of plastic dust sheet and it is proving invaluable for this, especially as it is transparent so I can see what is going on.
Rolls of fabric waiting for the dye to cure

I keep hearing the term ‘breakdown’ printing and I know it is very fashionable at the moment, but it is not something I have tried, even though I saw Ruth demonstrate it to our C&G students earlier in the year.  So I thought I should give it a try.  I’m really pleased with these results as they are definitely creating the right look of fabric to move forward Unsung Muses again.
Fabric breakdown printed with the thickened dyes before it is washed out

I’ve been especially pleased with the results following Rayna Gillman’s suggestion, in her book, ‘Create your own hand-printed cloth’ to use rubbing plates to give the pattern to print with.  These have the additional bonus of creating a negative print from the dye left on the rubbing plate after you have pushed the dye through the screen and these are creating great prints too.
Breakdown printed, with some thermofax printing at the bottom right

For those (like me) that need the mystique taken out of breakdown printing, it is basically painting thickened dyes onto your screen, leaving them to dry.  Once dried, you screen print through this screen using plain manutex.  It is not a controllable process and you end up with several prints from it as various parts of the dried-on dye come off onto the fabric during the printing.  The fabric has to have been treated with soda ash prior to printing and then left to ‘cure’ for several hours, without the dye drying again so it remains on the fabric.  The fabric can then be washed out.
Breakdown printed

As I only have one screen it is rather a slow process, but that leaves me plenty of time to do other things in the meantime – like plan what to do with all the fabric I am printing!


Gill said...

This sounds fun - would you recommend Rayna's book ??

Gillian Cooper said...

Yes, I would really recommend Rayna's book. It is full of ideas, with a 'what if' approach, rather than being prescriptive. The aim of the book is to encourage you to use everyday objects rather than expensive equipment, which is always good.

Maggi said...

Love breakdown printing and you have some great results here. I can recommend Rayna's book too.

Gillian Cooper said...

Thanks Maggi. Your art cloths are really inspiring too. I love seeing them on the web.

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