Fabric Printing with Vegetables
When people find out that I have a Bachelor of Visual Arts, the conversation usually goes like this:
“Really? How do you use that in your current job?”
Me “Oh I don’t. I work in government administration”
“But you can make money out of it?”
Me, frowning slightly “You could if you were good or something, but I don’t.” Get’s excited “I know people who are artists though!’ Apparently I find this a redeeming quality about myself.
“So what do you use it for? There was a point to getting it right?”
Me, shuffles feet and frown increases “I don’t really use it…”
That is all about to change though because today I did some printmaking! Woot woot!!
Ok, so I haven’t used any of the technical ‘skills’ that I learnt at uni (which BTW was well over a decade ago now), but who cares because I printed stuff! And this is just the beginning. As part of my journey over the next 9 months (wow that first 3 months really did fly by) I plan on refreshing a lot of my latent skills. Vegetables today, block printing next and eventually back to screen printing.
Although printing with vegetables may seem like a strange place to start, it’s not fine art by any means, I chose this medium due to the minimal outlay required to start. I was also curious to see what types of patterns could be created with vegetables. I had a range of veggies to use and was more excited about some than others. I thought the bunch of pak choy that I had would create beautiful flower like shapes and would be my favourite by far. It wasn’t. In fact it turned out to be my least favourite. (Edited – after some contemplation the pak choy flowers have grown on me and I love it again, how fickle I am lol!). A cob of corn lathered in paint and rolled across fabric on the other hand, created a beautiful wild pattern that I am absolutely in love with. I also used a carrot cut at 2 different thicknesses and a potato which I shaped into a triangle.
- Fabric (I used calico which I pre-washed and ironed)
- Fabric Fixative (I used the Derivan water-based fixative from Spotlight)
Using a fabric fixative will make normal acrylic paint washable, so you can choose any colour you want. The pink & white paints came straight out of my paint box but the mint and coral (colour theme for Rei Baby’s bedroom – what do you think?) came from Masters. They are Frosty Green and Singapore Sling by Solver Paints.
Follow the instructions for the fabric fixative to prepare your paint – mine required one part fixative to two parts paint. Now you have fabric paint! Once dried you need to iron the paint on a high setting for 2-3 minutes to set the paint. And it’s as easy as that!
To transfer the print to fabric I used a small sponge (available at Spotlight) that I dipped into the paint then dabbed onto the veggies before pressing them firmly, paint side down, on to the fabric.
When printing with the pak choy I liked the effect of some heavy paint areas and some lighter, so I would sponge paint on and print twice before reapplying.
I printed the corn by rolling it across the fabric to create some heavy areas and some light areas.
I cut the potato into the shape I wanted (a triangle) and applied paint prior to each print. This is the same technique I used with the carrot.
As I wanted random patterns I didn’t pre-plan where I was going to stamp, I just went for it. It was lots of fun!
This would be a great activity to do with the kids (Rei Baby will definitely be growing up with some printmaking in her life) and can easily be done on paper or fabric.
But what am I going to do with my fabric now that I have printed it? I am going to attempt a triangle quilt for Rei Baby’s cot – that’s if reason ever catches up with our emotions and we finally let her move out of the bassinet in our room in to her own…
What have you used out of your fridge for printing with?