Home Embroidery Find out how to do solar printing on material utilizing leaves & flowers

Find out how to do solar printing on material utilizing leaves & flowers


A few years in the past, I used to be fascinated by dyeing yarn and materials with pure dyes. It was a lot enjoyable seeing the colours develop and check out totally different dyeing strategies. So, once I stumbled over solar printing on material I needed to give it a go. It looks as if pure magic when the colour develops proper in entrance of your eyes from a clear mass to a surprising sample.

Disclaimer: This text accommodates affiliate hyperlinks.

What’s solar printing?

Solar printing, often known as Cyanotype, is a technique of dyeing material and paper with a photographic printing course of. At first, the colours are clear after which develop their colour when uncovered to UV gentle.

The trick right here is to forestall the dye from dyeing the material at some locations by masking up sure areas. This leads to generally very surprising results.

sun-printing fabric with leaves


  • material out of pure materials (cotton, silk, wool, linen)
  • solar dye agent & fixator agent
  • brush or sponge to unfold the paint
  • water spraying bottle
  • non-compulsory: glass panes (e.g. out of image frames)

Listed here are some manufacturers that promote sun-dye paints: Inkodye, Dynaflow, and SolarFast. This set features a sponge, the dye, and the fixator agent. It may be used on material and paper. There are additionally many extra colours to select from right here and the washing detergent to take away extra dye to forestall additional darkening of the dye is offered right here.

In case you don’t wish to fiddle with the dyes, there are additionally ready-made objects like ready materials, paper sheets, or aprons that you simply solely have to position your greenery on et voilá it dyes. Listed here are some ready-to-use merchandise on Amazon.

My experiments with sun-printing on material with leaves


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Since it’s a dyeing course of, be sure that to cowl your floor to guard it from the dye. Have a washcloth in attain to wipe away any unintended splashes.

1. Decide leaves and flowers

First, choose a variety of leaves and flowers to place in your material. The bigger your material, the extra leaves you’ll want. Relatively decide a bit of bit greater than not having sufficient. Issues like fancy-looking seed capsules (poppy seeds) or grass can add attention-grabbing shapes to your material.

I merely went exterior and picked up what our environment in a 5 min vary held. There have been wheat grains (which I didn’t use), lime tree leaves with their little seed bobbles, little twigs from our overgrown hedge, and totally different sizes of sprouting twigs from the vinegar tree. Discover the totally different shapes of leaves and flowers. Decide totally different sizes of them to have a variety of potentialities.

I’ve seen individuals utilizing flowers as a substitute of sun-printing their material with leaves and it appears to be like attractive. As a result of the flower petals are so skinny, the solar partially shines via and leaves a touch of dyed material. When you have some flowers left for this, give it a strive!

sun-printing fabric with leaves

2. Apply the solar dye to the material

To keep away from making an enormous mess and with the ability to transport the material simply, I used some glass panes from previous image frames. They’d the right measurement for my material and I attempted to remain contained in the panes with the dye.

Apply the sun-dye with a bigger brush. To try it out, I sprinkled some water over one of many materials to see if I may obtain a watercolor-ish impact. I couldn’t see an enormous distinction besides on the edges that had been much less crisp with the moist material.

While you apply the solar dye, just be sure you don’t have wrinkles within the material or they may trigger shadows which leads to high-quality traces within the dyed material later.

Be sure that to prep every little thing in oblique gentle and even higher – in a dimmed room. If you’re working in a brilliant room, the dye will start to set in earlier than you actually have a probability to place your leaves on! I used my sun-blocking curler blinds they usually labored nice. You don’t must be in a pitch-black room. Nonetheless, it may be higher to dye and lay on one piece of material after one other as a substitute of making ready suddenly. This offers you adequate time earlier than the dye units in even in a brighter room.

Vital observe: don’t use the comb to dip into the dye bottle in case you are working with multiple colour. Both use particular person brushes for every colour or higher pour your dye liquid in a separate bowl and use the dye from there. Additionally, don’t pour again the liquid into the bottle once more or the dye can begin to react inside the bottle. I needed to be taught it the laborious means and now I’ve a bottle with a blue dye that has began to grow to be inexperienced as a result of I by chance blended within the different dye with the comb.

sun-printing fabric with leaves

3. Including the leaves and flowers to your sun-print material

Now, on to the enjoyable half! Lay your leaves and flowers or seeds on prime of the material.

When every little thing is the place it must be, place the material in direct daylight. Relying on the sun-dye you’ve, you’ll want actually direct daylight as in blazing solar with out clouds.

My first try was on a cloudy day and it labored nonetheless (contained in the room). I did place it on the window although and it was fairly brilliant exterior. The day of the second try was actually sunny and it dyed a lot faster than the day earlier than.

Attaining particular results in solar printing

Layering impact

Normally, you’ll place the objects suddenly after which let the dye set. This appears to be like nice but it surely additionally is kind of one-dimensional because the sample later has just one shade. Nonetheless, you possibly can obtain a layering impact in case you take away or add leaves in the course of the dyeing course of.

Within the image beneath, I added the longer leaves later to cowl a number of the areas for a brief period of time in order that it will solely be a touch of a leaf as a substitute of a clean white leaf.

sun-printing fabric with leaves

Traces and lettering

You may add traces and even lettering to your sun-printed material with the assistance of a glass pane. Write or draw your design on it and place the pane on prime of the leaves on the material. Use a marker that’s opaque. The entire level is to dam the sunshine in order that the dye on the material doesn’t develop its colour.

I needed to check if I can use a chalk marker so as to add geometrical shapes to the sample. And it really works! The glass pane additionally helps to maintain the leaves pressed down and keep the place they need to. Right here is the top end result:

As you possibly can see, the primary spherical of leaves may be very crisp and simple to see. The circle from the chalk paint is there, too. The leaves I placed on later created these cloudy irregular shapes within the background which provides extra dimension to the sample.

For this piece of material, I added numerous totally different leaves and took away the primary spherical of leaves, too, in order that they might present extra colour later. I discover it resembles an underwater scene with the sunshine shining from above.

Utilizing different objects

For the solar printing course of, you should utilize actually any inanimate objects. At one level, I began including embroidery provides to see what occurs. It turned out nice and I’ll use this unfold of material for a venture bag later! Look how 3D the mini embroidery hoop appears to be like due to the shadow it solid within the solar.

Vital step: wash after dyeing

When the dye has reached the extent of colour you need, take away all of the plant matter and rinse the material shortly or put it immediately within the washer. Don’t wash it together with your common garments or the sun-dye paint may stain them. Use the fixator agent of your photo voltaic dye agent to set within the colours. This is essential as a result of in any other case, the remnants of the dye within the material will proceed to develop additional over time. Belief me, I discovered that the laborious means. Sadly not one of the tasks you see on this article look as crisp as within the photos anymore. I didn’t know concerning the fixator agent and simply rinsed the dye out and washed it within the washer. This isn’t sufficient!

Additionally, don’t combine totally different sun-printing colours or they may stain your different items of material. You may add some darkish towels in case you don’t wish to waste water. I used a really quick wash cycle and added some darkish blue towels that might have gone within the washer anyway.

The washing course of strips away the entire dye that hasn’t but been developed by the solar.

I’m nonetheless monitoring the material to see how a lot darker it would get, however till now it has developed a light-weight blue colour as a substitute of the unique off-white. So bear in mind that this may occur. Additionally, a reader of mine reported that her dye was a bit yellow (she used the teal colour) as a substitute of clear. Fortunately, after a few days, the colour set into an actual teal and white on her material. So, if that is so in your venture, don’t panic. It would set in later.

What to do with solar printed materials?

With the sun-printed material, you may make something that you’d use common material for. I used one among mine for the magical moth good friend sample by Emillie Ferris. You may see it beneath.

magical moth friend on sun printed fabric

Listed here are some concepts on how you can use the material

As a substitute of dyeing material, you possibly can dye completed objects, too. Watch out although that the material is out of pure fibers and which you can wash them within the washer later.

Utilizing different paints

I’ve learn that you should utilize different paints like acrylic or material paint. Although I’ve not tried it out but, it may be an amazing different to utilizing photo voltaic dyes which might be generally laborious to get in any respect. In case you simply wish to check out the method, give it a go!

The steps are the identical as with common photo voltaic dyes. Moist the material, apply the paint, lay the leaves on prime, and let it set within the solar. From studying, the time it’s a must to let the paint set is for much longer than with photo voltaic dye although. One weblog mentions leaving it for 1-2 hours within the solar till the paint is dry. Take away the leaves then and put the material within the dryer on a excessive setting to set within the colour. Wash the material by hand to take away paint remnants and keep away from staining your garments – or wash with darkish towels within the washer.

Nonetheless, this isn’t really a sun-dyeing course of. I’m undecided in case you even want to reveal it to the solar. I’ll try it out and report however my suspicion is that the solar doesn’t play a serious position in such a dyeing. Likely the leaves forestall the dye to set into the material the place they lay. Additionally, the material will all the time be wetter below the leaves as a result of the dye doesn’t dry there in any respect. In case you apply water drops on moist acrylic paint on canvas, you’ll be capable to wipe away the paint at these spots later when the paint has dried elsewhere. It may be the identical impact and on this case, the solar is barely there to speed up the drying means of the material paint.

Regardless that it isn’t technically a photo voltaic dyeing method, it’s a nice technique to check out in case you don’t have the photo voltaic dyes out there to you!

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