Large Scale Mono-printing

New Year’s Eve … I am alone in the house, and thinking of a good way to start the year. That’s when I decided to watch a DVD that I’ve had for a while. I had read parts of the book, looked at the pictures  but had never watched the DVD. The book is “Making your Mark: Creating Cloth for Imagery, Stitch, Embroidery and Embellishment” by Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan from Committed to Cloth.

Mark+MakingI met Claire and Leslie in Birmingham, at Virtual Studios during the Festival of Quilts in 2013, and fell in love with their work, so I bought all the books that they had, and have looked at them from time to time but had never really done the work or watched the DVD’s.

In the DVD, they were showing, among other techniques, large scale monoprinting. It was a revelation. And it opened all kinds of doors in my mind. I had read about it before this, but it just clicked!

A few weeks ago I prepared the printing paste by mixing warm water with urea and sodium alginate thickener. Let it sit for 24 hours or so, and it was ready to use. To this, you add the Procyon MX dyes, either already in liquid form, or as a powder. By the way, the printing paste will last quite a few weeks if you keep it in the fridge. I keep it in the garage, which is at 6 degrees C, just a tad warmer than my fridge.

On Saturday night, I decided to go downstairs and play with the thickened dyes to make some larger scale monoprinting. I have a sheet of stiff plastic that I am not sure where it came from, but it is perfect for this technique. It measures approximately 35 x 45. The glassine that Claire was using is nowhere to be found around here … so this will do. You need a surface that will take the medium and be easy to clean. Below you can see what it looks like taped to the printing table. The darker areas you see are on the canvas covering the table, not on the sheet of plastic.


I made some black printing paste by adding a teaspoon of New Black to the printing paste and applied it to the plastic with a foam brush. The “white” areas you see are the reflection of the light on the printing paste.


It is interesting to work this way because the plastic makes the printing paste bead in some areas, and gets thicker in others and that offers a nice contrast. I made the first pass, and this is what it looked like:


I set it aside on a piece of plastic to let dry a bit before adding a second pull (or layer). The first time I tried the technique, once I was done, I went to clean the plastic before putting it away; I sprayed water on it and was going to grab a paper towel to clean it with but realized that the water and the printing paste were doing interesting things on the plastic, so I grabbed a piece of fabric and printed it with the new texture … and I loved it.

So this time I did the same after the second pull, which I did in a Claret color, a deep burgundy-reddish color. I used a comb to make the marks and printed the fabric.  This has three layers on:

  1. the red background is the first layer (Clared thickened paste with a comb pattern)
  2. The stamping with the snow fence
  3. the 3″ circles made by cleaning the stamp on the fabric


I tried something different on another piece of fabric with the black printing paste. I used a piece of snow fence to remove some of the color from the plastic and “cleaned” the fence on the piece of red fabric – above – I told you about. It looked very cool.  I added one more layer with a rubbing plate that has 3” circles on it. The stamp lifts some of the printing paste and stays on the stamp in very interesting and unique patterns.


It seemed like a shame to waste them, so I printed them on a gray piece of fabric to clean it before repeating and added some on the red fabric above.

And another fabric with black paste with a comb and the 3″ circles:


I cleaned the circles on the circles plate on a piece of gray fabric as they had really interesting marks on them.  Here’s the result:


Now all this separate pieces of fabric are wrapped in plastic, rolled, and set in a warm spot: on the floor of the laundry room close to the heat vent. They will stay wrapped like that for a few days. I will then wash them to remove all the soda ash, printing paste and excess color, and then iron them and get them ready to use – or re-print.

I will post photos of the finished fabric once they are washed. I hope you give it a try. It is a lot of fun, and as I have mentioned before … highly addictive.

I am off to play some more. Have fun and keep quilting.


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