Soda soaking fabric in preparation for monoprinting

Did I tell you that monoprinting is addictive? All the what ifs … all the possibilities … all the materials – different paints, mediums, gadgets to play with, to add texture with.

Over the weekend, for the span of 1.5 hours, I went downstairs to play for a while. Printing paste and Procion dyes on hand, I gathered all the rest of the materials and set out to print some fabric.

The more I do, the more I learn. With large format monoprinting, one of the issues to deal with is placing the fabric on the printed surface by myself without any help. I came up with this idea of rolling the fabric on a cardboard tube, as tightly as I could to prevent as many wrinkles as I could, and then rolling it from one end of the plate to the other.  I have posted a video below.  I had asked Sabrina to take some photos, when I realized that she was actually taking a video.  I had to shorten it a bit to place it here, but hope you find it useful.

video – unrolling fabric

I am using thickened Procion Dyes, which means that the fabric needs to be soaked in soda ash solution (soda ash, water and table salt) and left to dry. In warmer climates, or in the Summer, this is easily done as you can hang the fabric outside in the clothes line. In Winter, in Canada, this proves to be a bit of a challenge. But I managed.

Consider pre-washing the fabrics before placing them in the soda ash to ensure that it soaks into the fibers. If in doubt, pre-wash!

The process involves using a large bucket or plastic container with the soda ash solution and soaking the fabric in it for at least 30 minutes. You can leave it longer, but it’s not necessary. Wring the extra soda ash out and if you can, spin it in the washing machine – no water!

The recipe I use is 9 tablespoons of soda ash plus 1 cup of table salt per gallon of warm water. Place some warm to hot water in the container – about 1/3 should do it before you add the soda; if you add the water on the soda it will clump and you won’t be able to dissolve it.

Do not put in the dryer or iron fabric that has been soaked in soda ash as it may turn brown, something to do with the alkalinity. If you put it in the dryer, I’ve heard there’s danger of it catching on fire. So always remember safety first!

Hang out to dry. I put mine on hangers and distributed them around the house close to the heat vents. In the morning, they were dry. Once the fabric is dry, do NOT fold it. Just toss it in a plastic bag and label it so you know that it has been prepared with soda ash. It will keep for a long time.

Preparing the surface:

black circles on plastic

Rolling the fabric:

unrolling fabric - large mono prints

The fabric after it has been rolled and smoothed out:

fabric on monoprint

This is what the fabric looks like. It is still batching.  I have managed to resist the urge to wash it.  I find that the longer they stay wrapped in plastic, the darker the colour.

fabric with circles

I will show you some photos once the fabrics have been washed and pressed.  I hope you give it a try. In the meantime, keep quilting



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