Stenciling on natural dyed (tea and coffee) fabric.

I'm using purple and yellow acrylic paints and a stencil brush.

This while waiting for the screen printing supplies to arrive.  The bulb in my thermofax machine died and is no longer available, so on the advice of some trusted artist friends I've purchased Jacquards drawing fluid and filler to make silk screen designs.  The upside to this is I'll have large screens for screen printing natural dyes onto the cloth.

Deconstructed Screen Printing with Natural Dyes and Stencils!

Materials List: 
Silk Screens
Squeegee for Silk Screen
Natural Dye Extracts
Gum Tragacanth Binder
Containers to hold natural dye extracts/binder I used paper cups.
Plastic Spoons
Masking Tape
Fabric or Watercolor Papers

Products Used:

How-to make the Gum Tragacanth Binder Video

I am here today to show you how to use stencils with a silk screen and natural dyes for screen printing.

Mix up Gum Tragacanth with Natural Dye Extracts; see video for specific amounts and mixing instructions.  I made a little card with the names of the extracts I was working with and daubed a bit of the color next to each name, for future projects.

The Natural Dye Extracts blended with the Gum Tragacanth are now ready for printing!

Most silk screens won’t be the same size as your stencil, however, I have an easy fix for this problem.   Measure your screen and your stencil and then block off the required space for your stencil by taping news print to the FRONT of your silk screen.  Then tape your stencil to the front of the screen making sure to overlap the stencil onto the newsprint.

Blocked off silk screen, as seen from the front.

Blocked off silk screen as seen from the back.

Black Birds in Tree Inverse taped to the FRONT of the silk screen.

Place your natural dye binder medium onto the screen, towards the edge, this is known as “the well”.  Using your squeegee pull the medium in a firm manner across the screen, once you have reached the other side, pull the medium back towards yourself, do this several times adding more of the natural dye binder medium if needed until the color on the screen looks even.

Gently lift up the silk screen from your substrate, I used 300# cold press watercolor paper for this sample.

For this sample I used the same stencil and screen to print the image onto cochineal dyed cotton fabric that I had surfaced using my hand and earth pigments and fabric paint.

Printing onto cochineal dyed cotton fabric.

If you wish for your fabric images to be free of bumps, etc., tape the fabric to your surface to keep it from moving, etc., while printing.  I prefer an organic and whimsical look and therefore don’t tape my fabric to my table.

Natural Dyed Fabrics

Screen printed natural dye extracts onto cutch dyed silk dupioni.

Screen printed osage orange onto cochineal and lac dyed silk crepe de chine fabric.

I've been looking for a piece of natural dyed, compost dyed, mono and screen printed silk fabric I surfaced back around 2006, I'm finding everything but that particular piece of fabric!!!

Sorting Fabric

Sorting fabrics for future projects, and more specifically looking for a piece of pigment painted fabric that I've been really wanting to work with in a new project.

Rust dyed commercial fabrics from 2005/06 sitting atop a pile of hand painted fabrics from 2003-2006.  The log cabin block piece I made back in 1994 when I took a hand dyeing class from Priscilla Sage at Iowa State University.

Bound Resist fabrics, top, from 1994 and screen printed hand dyed fabrics from 2005.

Some of my older hand dyed and hand painted fabrics that I've been sorting through for various projects.
A pink piece I made from my screen printing squeegie scrapings, from a class I took with Tim McIllrath in 1994.

Gum Tragacanth Binder for Screen Printing.

To make print paste
2 - 4 Tablespoons of Gum Tragacanth depending on the consistency you desire. For painting I use 2 T. for printing I use 4 T 1000 ml of boiling water

Container to boil water in, and heat source for boilingwater
Squeegee or rubber spatula – the kind used for scraping bowls
Container with screw on lid – 1 quart variety
Respirator for handling the Gum Tragacanth in powdered form
Measuring cups and measuring spoons

Bring 1000 ml of water to a boil add to blender – after

I let it cool a bit so as to not wreck my blender.

Add 2 – 4 Tablespoons of Gum Tragacanth powder to the blender, put lid on blender and blend until a creamy consistency.

Remove from blender using a spatula or squeegee

place into your container with lid. I use wide mouth jars as this makes removing the paste much easier.

Cool the paste to room temperature, cover with tight fitting lid.

Store in refrigerator for up to ten days, I have found that it’ll last longer if you avoid introducing contaminants
to the paste.