Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cyanotype On Fabric

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been making cyanotype prints on fabric. The process is pretty similar to making cyanotypes on paper, but there are some differences as well. Doing a cyanotype print on fabric uses about five times the sensitizer that doing them on paper does. Exposure times are also longer. I’ve been exposing paper cyanotypes for 12 minutes, but the fabric ones I’m exposing for 16 minutes.
Also, although I’m using 100% cotton fabric, every fabric is different, and I’m finding that some work really well for cyanotypes, while others don’t work well at all. All the fabrics I’m using were washed several times before printing, to remove any sizing in the fabric. As you can see from the images, I’m printing on different colors of fabric, to see how the blue cyanotype interacts with the fabric color. This of course leads to exposure and contrast issues, but it’s all part of the fun!

This is the first one I made, and I love it. The red fabric works well, and I like how it’s turned the blue so dark that it’s nearly black.

I posted this image twice before, once as a cyanotype print on paper here and as a toned cyanotype here.
Click on those links to compare the different versions.

This is the second cyanotype on fabric I made. The fabric is dark green. I don’t think it turned out that great, but I’m not redoing it, because I made a version on paper that I like quite a bit.

This one’s on bright yellow fabric. It’s underexposed, and the fabric color is too bright for the image. I reprinted it a second time, on pale yellow fabric.

This one’s much better. I like it a lot.

This print was made on a pale rose colored fabric. I like this one quite a bit.

This one was made on the same rose colored fabric. It photographed poorly, and looks much better in person.

This one looks much better here than it does in person. I really wanted it to turn out well, but it’s dark and kind of muddy looking. I may reprint it with less exposure, but I suspect that the image may be competing with the red fabric.

I love this one. The fabric is an ugly neon green (which looks yellow in the photo), but it works really well with the blue of the cyanotype.

This one was also done on the neon green fabric. It also looks yellow here, but is bright green in person. I like this one quite a bit.


Kelly said...

These are totally cool, I think they have a lot of potential. As a commercial application, I think portraits could be very interesting done this way.

kml364 said...

How did you coat the fabric?
the same as for paper? What kind of fabric did you use?

nylon spandex fabric said...

oh,my god

Ellan Marie said...

Does the fabric have to be dry before printing on?

How much chemical do you mix to make say 50 shirts?

Thanks so much


Ellan Marie said...

Does the fabric have to be very dry before starting?

How much chemical do you need for a couple shirts?

Tyler Hewitt said...

Based on my experience and what I've read, natural fabrics (like 100% cotton) work much better than blends. It takes quite a lot of the chemistry to coat fabric, easily 4-5 times more than when coating paper. Yes, the surface should be completely dry before printing, or the prints will turn out splotchy.

While I haven't tried it myself, all the research I have done on cyanotypes says that it's not a good process for clothing. The shirts will fade very quickly when washed, and the cyanotype image may deteriorate when in contact with detergents. Unless you wanted to print on shirts as an art project and not to wear, I'd avoid cyanotypes on clothing.

Anonymous said...

Have you found any way to fix the image more permanently to the fabric? We've made some kick ass shirts, but as soon as they were washed (in phosphate free detergent) they faded to brown. I want blue! Do you have any ideas?

Tyler Hewitt said...

I haven't found any work around or fix to the issue of printing cyanotypes on clothing. As far as I' know, the process just isn't suitable for clothing.