This post is a deconstruction of the techniques I used to create Ted and Maurice at Lorinc Pap Ter, a small (12″ square) art quilt for the Four-in-Art Quilt group. Our challenge this quarter was Contrast, under the overall yearly theme of Urban. Often an idea will come to me, but sometimes I start with the technique. I knew I wanted to drag out those bottles of Bubble Jet Set and Bubble Jet Rinse that I’d ordered some time ago, and find out if this whole process was difficult or easy. It was easy.
Bubble Jet Set is a type of mordant that binds to your fabric and allows the ink from your inkjet printer to adhere more easily. I’ve printed on fabric for years, but haven’t ever prepared the fabrics. I first started by reading a lot of blog posts, and I’ll post the links at the end. The one website that described the process best was Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry’s (Bryerpatch.com), and I followed her instructions.
I bought a shallow plastic container at Target, about 4 inches deep with a latch-type lid, as I wanted to store the prepared fabric in there afterwards. I cut my fabric about 9 inches by 12 inches, grabbed the container and the Bubble Jet Set (I only needed that one at this time) and went down to the kitchen sink. I put on dishwashing gloves, as suggested, then laid the first piece of fabric in the bottom of the container. I sparingly glopped some BubbleJet Set (BJS) onto the fabric, smoothing it out until it was thoroughly moistened. I placed a dry piece of fabric on top of that, again, smoothing until it looked like it had picked up most of the excess BJS, then glopped a little more. I’m being quite stingy with the BJS, actually, but do want to make sure that the fabric is sufficiently soaked. I repeated this until all four sheets were saturated.
I lay down some towels underneath my improvised clothesline in the garage (some say you can put containers to catch the extra drips, but I didn’t have that much excess) and hung up my sheets of fabric until dry. In our summer heat, it only took about an hour. Meanwhile, I washed and thoroughly dried my container, and when the fabric was dry, put them in the container until I could get to them. I read one blog where the crafter cautioned about letting too much time pass between treatment and printing. I had a space of about 4 days, and that was fine.
In yesterday’s post, I talked about how I created my art conceptually, but what I did technically was begin with a good photo of the square in Budapest. I overlaid the baseball backstop photo, sized it, then took it down to 20% transparency, and used the Eraser tool to start erasing a space to let the statuary shine through. I could have created a Path and selected it, but sometimes I think the Erase Tool does just fine. I did change out the size of brush I was using, from 1 pixel in some places to 75 pixels in other places. I did the same with Ted and Maurice, first flipping them around so they faced the other way, as that’s where I had some space to put them. I merged the layers, as I know from experience that when printing on fabric, it’s wise to pump up the Saturation of colors (enhancing the image without making it garish), and to Lighten/Brighten the entire image.
For the border pieces, I sized each combination of colors to four inches, then pasted them into one document so I could print all the colors at once, first flattening, then then increasing the Contrast/Saturation and then adjusting the darkness through the Lighten/Brighten menu.
When I was ready to print, I backed the prepared fabric in freezer paper, ironing it thoroughly but using NO steam at all — I wanted the freezer paper to really bond with the fabric. I trimmed it to exactly 8 1/2″ by 11″ inches, and used a High Quality photo setting to print.
It worked like a charm! I let it set for the recommended 30 minutes then peeled off the freezer paper. I let it set some more to let it thoroughly dry–a caution I read on many blogs.
I put four capfuls of Bubble Jet Set Rinse in my container, then added about a gallon of water (about 3 inches) and set the first printed sheet in the water. I kept it agitating the whole time of two minutes, as you see above. I held up the sheet to let it drain and in the other sink, I rinsed the sheet well and laid it out on towels that I had set on the counter. I did the same process with all the other prints, agitating them (apparently to keep the dye from the printing to re-settle back onto the fabric — they cautioned several times to keep it flat, and to not let it crease!).
This was the color of the rinse water after I did all four sheets. The Bubble Jet Set Rinse is a mild detergent formulated to remove excess dye. In my reading, many said that Synthrapol would work also, but I had this so I used it.
I blotted the sheets gently, pressing out the excess moisture. I did not wring or crumple the printed fabrics at all, working to keep them flat.
I hung them in the garage again to let them dry, again taking only a short time. I was pretty happy with the results. The colors were vibrant and the fabric was soft and I knew it was washable, although there are cautions about what type of detergent you use. I never wash my art quilts so it wasn’t a concern, but if you plan on doing so, here are some good websites with information on their experience with using BJS:
The C J Jenkins Company manufactures the Bubble Jet Set, and I thought their page on printers was helpful, although I swear by my EPSON with their Archival Inks.
After this, the construction was pretty straight forward, although I had to do some cutting and stitching to get the dimensions correct around the central image.
I sashed the central image because I felt it might get lost in the tiny square borders.
I quilted it, using matching threads (mostly lots and lots of gray). Detail below. I didn’t want to “over-quilt” this, but did want to emphasize the various elements.
And that’s it! I’m pretty happy with how the BJS and BJR turned out, and glad that I had this little art quilt to nudge me into trying that preparing-fabric technique.
Next up? The third block in my Circles English Paper Piecing Sew-Along. I’ve remade this thing twice, so I’m ready to put it up and move on to the next block. See the above tab if you haven’t started yet.
My blogging software places ads here so I can use this site for free. I do not control the content of these ads.