- White tea towels (or white cotton fabric of your choice)
- Seatcolor Paints
- Foam Brushes
- Flat Work Surface in Sunny Spot
- Plastic or garbage bags to cover surface
- Leaves from plants in your garden (Large leaves work better)
- Metal objects or shapes.
- Household Iron
The first step is to pick a nice calm sunny day and setup your work surface. I covered one of our outdoor tables with plastic garbage bags so the paint did not stain the surface of our table.
Gather your materials that you will use to make prints. I gathered oak leaves, maple leaves, redbud leaves and some hydrangea blooms. I also had some metal shaped magnets that I wanted to try as well.
The next step is to mix your paints. Setacolor paints are made to used to dye fabric and can be heat set for permanency, they work great for “painting” color onto to fabric. They can be used in in their pure form for greater concentrated and brighter colors or can be mixed with water for more diluted colors. For this project I poured the entire jar of paint into a plastic and then added water until I was happy with concentration of color on my test fabric. It was approximately 3-4 cups of water per bottle of paint.
Next, I soaked my tea towels in water to get them nice and wet. I’m using tea towels for this project as I’m making some of these for gifts, but you can use any white cotton fabric for this project. This will help the paint disperse onto the towel easier as well as it gives you time to work in the sun before your paint dries.
Squeeze out all of the extra water in the tea towel and lay it flat on your work surface. Then use your foam brush to begin painting on the color.
I had so much fun painting the fabric different colors that I plan to try this again to just create some colorful fabric for other projects. The color combinations are endless and the colors meld together into really lovely mixes.
Once your fabric is painted, dip the leaves you plant to use in water before placing them on the surface of your fabric. This helps to adhere the leaves to the fabric and get a crisper image once the fabric is dry.
Choose the flattest side of the leaf to place face down on the fabric. Press the leaf onto the fabric and rub your fingers lightly over the leaf to make sure it has a good seal on the fabric, this will help ensure a crisper image. I had better luck using larger leaves (as pictured below) rather than super fine, smaller leaves that I tried on a few of my first prints.
Once you have all of your leaves in place, let your fabric sit in the sun for at least 20-30 minutes or until the fabric feels mostly dry to the touch. The amount of time can vary greatly depending on temperatures and humidity in your area. Once the fabric is mostly dry to the touch, begin to gently peel up the leaves, as long as you are satisfied with the image it has left behind you can continue to peel off the remainder of the leaves. If you are not satisfied, leave the leaves on your fabric a little longer.
The final step is to heat treat your fabric so your prints will be permanent. Put your iron on the cotton setting, without steam and iron your fabric for a full five minutes. Once completed your fabric color and prints will be permanent.
If you’ve had any experience with sun printings, leave me a note, I’d love to hear your tips and experiences.