Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Low Tech Printing and Stamping: Potatoes, Foam, and Embossing Plates



Another Layer

What fun I've been having, and all 
the better when I'm sharing it with you! 

The majority of folks don't have a bottomless purse to fund their hobbies so I've been keeping that foremost in my mind while doing these projects. I think being economically and ecologically minded with both money and materials should be a consideration in all our lives. So I try to stay within a reasonable budget, and RRR: Reduce, reuse, and recycle. If you're trying some of these projects yourselves, start being aware of where you can scavenge free materials. Your junk mail, jars, bubble wrap, onion bags, packaging on many items, etc., and so on are all freebies. Make sure they're clean, and start accumulating interesting shapes and textures to use for printing. 


Although they are marketed under various names, our family always refers to these soft, crafty things as foamies. They are either thin foam with a sticky back you expose by peeling off the tape, or just the foam. They're available in sheets or cut outs, and are ideal for low tech printing. 

I told you how I wasn't happy with my little spirals made from potato stamps HERE, and it was time to start adding to that design. Instead of making an entire circle of these, it was easier to make two 'petals', and then stamp around the circles. It also kept the design more organic as each one was different, or I could opt not to do an entire circle of petals. Because my spacing wasn't spot on, I faded out some of the petals where they might overlap with the next flower's petals. In spite of it helping a lot, the piece may not yet be done.

I drew my idea first on paper, then cut out foamie pieces to match it. I begged a junk piece of plexiglass plastic as a stamp based, laid it over the design, and traced it with a Vis-a-Vis marker. Putting in the spiral itself would help me with registration--a fancy way of saying 'lining it up.' 

Foamies can be used as they are for inks, but if you're using paints you also have the option of painting them lightly with a thin coating of acrylic paint to give them texture. When dry, the texture will help to pick up a coating of the paint. It's up to you. 



I'm using two different brayers. The black one is firmer, and ideal for applying paint to stamps. I mix my colors on a thin piece of Plexiglass or even a recycled meat tray, pick up a thin layer of paint, and roll it lightly onto the stamp. You have more control this way then dipping the stamp into the paint. The white one is softer, and ideal if you need to roll over the back of the stamp while stamping for even pressure and coverage.

Pressure: how hard you press your stamp onto the fabric depends on the look you're after. Generally, a lighter touch is better than a lot of pressure, I found. You can see below I had trouble getting consistent coverage on the leaves, but I think it's something that will come with experimenting over time. Both pressure and the amount of paint I put on the stamp come into play.



This piece started with just single flowers in this post, and it, too, needed something more. I mixed a darker brown from the Jacquard Textile Paints I'd been using, and created another stamp out of foamies. This time I took a pencil, and scored veins in the leaves I cut out. The foamies really give you a lot of options.

When the leaves were done, I went back with my original potato stamp still kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, and still without signs of mold or deterioration, and stamped over the previous flowers. If you turn a circular stamp just so slightly, you'll get a little ghost image, and it creates depth.


I was trying to imagine how I might use a fabric like this, and felt in needed a corresponding rustic stripe. I found a commercially produced stamp in my collection, and very lightly coated the surface before stamping. These might make a pair of fun placemats for a fall table, and after the paint is heat set with an iron, be completely washable.


Here's the embossing plate I grabbed as an impromptu squeegee while silk screening on the cheap. I found it for under $2 on clearance, and bought it because I thought it might make a good print plate. The purpose of an embossing template is to create a 3D pattern on paper by running it through a specialized press. Greeting cards are often embossed, meaning they have raised portions in the design. I'm not a paper crafter, but many items in that department are good for fabric printing, too.


Initially I rolled the embossing plate very lightly with the Jacquard Textile Paint, but it left just a faint print. I was disappointed so looked closely at what was happening. An embossing plate has 2 pieces. One is the positive, which I had printed with. It's the one that is the actual design if you were to draw it, and color 'inside the lines.' The other folding half is the negative, or the background shape.


 Positive Print


Negative Print

On the other hand, the negative print came out much better. I looked at the embossing plate itself, and will tell you there was slight texture in both the positive and negative. I expect some of this had to do with the quality of the paper I was using, and how the paint was reacting with that. The next time I experiment, I'll give it a try on actual fabric. 


One problem I'd been having with using the potato stamps was picking up too much paint at a time. I found that using a small square of synthetic felt in a bowl, and adding my mixed paint onto it served as an excellent stamp pad. I know I picked this up through reading, but no idea where. The paint didn't dry out nearly as fast, and the fiber in the pad kept it from globbing on the stamp. When I was done stamping this design, I slid the whole bowl into a recycled plastic bag for use another day.


You can see I started in the middle, and was having issues with excess paint on the stamp. The simple felt pad solution fixed it right up.


Some evenings when I reach the front door, I'm absolutely wiped out. My mind is full of all the discoveries I've made, and fun I've had, but I'm done for the day. My flowers are coming along nicely in their little pot, and remind me it's okay to put it behind me. 

I hope you're enjoying my printing adventures, and promise to take you into the world of Deconstructed Silk Screening next with home made screens. You can take a peek through the YouTube link for a professional showing you what it's all about, and tomorrow I'll have a novice's experience to share.



Deconstructed Screen Printing 
with Kerr Grabowski via YouTube

Come on, Doxie girls.
Maybe we can print some paws today.


19 comments:

  1. You are a maniac! I'm loving the ride you are giving us with your adventures in printing and dyeing fabrics! Keep going...its fascinating!

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    1. Jayne, uh, what a kind way of putting it. (Seriously, I know I am!) I would say it's fascinating to me, too, in how it's once again changing the way I see the world. For months it was all colors, saturation, how the light played it's roll, and so on, and now it's how the subtle patterns affect the color. If we see them together as one, or if our mind separates them. How to create the range of patterns is overwhelming, and I know I'll never even scratch the surface, but darned if I won't try. I'm having a tough time keeping up blog posts with the pace I'm discovering new things, so be prepared for some fast and furious coming up!

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  2. I love reading about your fabric dying. It's so interesting to me. One of these days I'm going to have to give it a go myself!

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    1. Sarah, once you try it, you get hooked, and even mistakes are interesting. I hope you do try.

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  3. That orange fabric turned out fab! Love the addition of the leaves and that negative print - woohoo. You're having too much fun.

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    1. Hey, thanks! I need to come up with a ditsy print, or find one in my stash even, and then I have a project in mind.

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  4. Loving this series of fabric painting. You seem to be having a ton of fun and I'm enjoying watching the various processes.

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  5. It's all so tempting, but I have so much to finish this month, I won't be printing until I finish at least the show quilts, I won't, I won't...
    I love how the orange fabric turned out and its companion, too. The embossing plate looks promising. I'm not so sure about the red fabric, though, but I generally have an apprehension of red with grey, must be something personal ))

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    1. Lena, this is Ohio, and home of Ohio State whose colors are scarlet and grey. So, red and grey here are like biscuits and gravy. They just go together for us. Don't come to Ohio in blue and gold--U of Michigan's colors, but I just did a little dyeing in that palette too. ; )

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  6. So fun and thank you for sharing your adventures! I love how you recycle things . Especially the foam meat trays for your paint roller tray. I hate throwing those out. They make great palette trays for any kind if painting. I wonder if you could use them for some sort of stamped by carving or something. They are thin but??

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    1. You know, Carol, I did see people making stamps from them, too, but I dislike that they're so uneven. You'd really have just a small part to use from the ones I have here. I think they're nicest to use as places to rest paint covered stuff, and they wash up well to be reused again and again.

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  7. Looks like summer time fun to me! ... Might have to pull out some of my old stamped fabrics and think how to add to them, but much later this summer.

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    1. Sharon, I have been reading a lot about layering prints and colors, and using a roller to add a design is really intriguing for me. Have you ever tried this?

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  8. What Jayne said! I am loving following along, keeping my hands clean here, watching through the screen...one day, one day soon, I want to do this with you! Your artistic eye just shines through, and I love how 'green' you are being. So much in quilting is so very expensive so this is wonderful to see. That potato lasted so well! Totally surprisingm=, wonderfully so.

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    1. Sandra, I gave the potato several tries over many days. It was supposed to last 2-3 days, and was still good for about 6. I simply washed the paint off with water, patted dry, and popped in a plastic bag left slightly open in the refrigerator. YMMV. And you know I love to have company to play with!

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  9. I learn so much through your blog. I find it really interesting to see how you progress through the creation of a design. And I love the reduce-reuse-recycle aspect too! Thanks so much for sharing all of these experiences!!

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    1. That's so nice to hear, Christine. Thank you. I know we all wonder if there's anyone out there interested in some of the odd things we do, but I, myself, know how much I've built upon other people's knowledge. It's so good to read what people do, but I still think showing the process is crucial to understanding for many of us. I'm pleased you like it.

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  10. I'm not one for playing with paints and such, but it's a lot of fun to see what you come up with each day. I like the leaves and flowers print, the stripe is a perfect addition. The design from the embossing plate is really cool. I like both sides, the barely there print would make a great textured background for some project.

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    1. Kate, there are quite a few people who love to watch messy processes, but have no desire to get in there and get dirty. I remember as a kid at Camp Friedenswald in Cassopolis, MI how we would have a swamp walk each year, and how some loathed it. If I had an excuse to be waist-deep in swamp muck, ALL the BETTER! It was the highlight of my week along with Arts & Crafts. I've always loved Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus when she'd say, "Take chances! Make mistakes!" but I would have to add, "Get dirty!" I do love a good mess.

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Thank you for sharing your ideas and comments. It's always enlightening to hear what you think, or if you have a suggestions. Some of you really make my day with your wit! I admit I struggle to keep up with replies during busy times, but it's because I'm working on new things to share with you. Give me a shout with anything urgent at julie@pinkdoxies.com, and I'll try to get right back with you.

If you want to be certain of a personal reply, leave your email or email me privately. Many people are not even aware when they have become a no-reply blogger. Yes, I know it's frustrating for us all.

Julie