A "What *NOT* To Do Tutorial
I received a complimentary Cyanotype printing kit from Jacquard through CO&K to test for the site, and I couldn't wait to try it out! Unfortunately, my excitement was very short-lived. My first attempt was an utter failure on every level. I attempted this process twice, and the results the second time around were not much better than the first. To top things off, Only 5 or 6 of the pictures I took for my second tutorial (and NONE from my first attempt) turned out usable (I've included as many as I thought would be helpful.) I'll explain the process and what I did, and why I think it went wrong, so that hopefully you can avoid making the same mistakes if you decide to try the kit out for yourself. (And I hope you will! I had a lot of fun with it regardless of the results, and I'll definitely be giving it another shot at some point in the future.)
- AlterEgo Designs entered her project Cyanotype Printed Scarf With The Jacquard Cyanotype Kit to StickerApp 27 Oct 01:36
- AlterEgo Designs published her project Cyanotype Printed Scarf With The Jacquard Cyanotype Kit 22 Sep 06:00
The first step in the directions included with the kit is to fill each of the two included bottles with water and mix the solution until fully dissolved. I used very warm water, since it didn't specify a temperature and warmer water tends to dissolve things faster. It then says to let your solution sit for at least 24 hours for best results. I let mine sit for a few days before my first attempt, and the solution itself seemed to work pretty well, so I'd say things were pretty successful so far in both cases.
The next step is to measure out an equal portion of solution A and solution B in a container while in dim lighting. I used a medicine cup to make sure my measurements were exact, and stood in the doorway of a large closet so that very little light could get into the room. Once mixed, you are supposed to fully coat the surface you're hoping to print with the solution. You can't save it once it's mixed, so the first time I tried to use very little to coat my scarf.
***Do not do this #1***
I'm sure this is where I went wrong, because my first print came out very weak and with patches that were still completely white. My second print I think I overcompensated by using too much solution and soaked my scarf TOO thoroughly, which made the next step very difficult. So be very careful and mix exactly as much as you need to *dampen* your surface, NOT soak it. Remember- you can always mix a little more to add in if you need it, but it's really, really hard to get any excess solution out once it's soaked into the fabric. I think this is one of the main reasons my second scarf failed.
Step 3 is to let your print surface dry fully in a completely dark area. I left my first scarf hanging in the closet overnight and it dried very quickly.
The second scarf I left in a plastic tub inside a trash bag in the closet, as it was too wet to hang. I left it for what seemed like forever, but after 3 days it was still soaking wet. As I was running out of time and I really didn't want to ruin the scarf and have to go out and buy a third one, I didn't do anything to attempt to speed the drying and instead just skipped ahead to the next step.
Once your printing surface is dry, you are to set it out in the sun for anywhere from 1-30 minutes, until the solution has fully set, with your objects or image on top.
***Do not do this #2***
For my first scarf, I had attempted to use images I had printed off of my computer onto sheer tracing paper. I think this was part of my problem. I think the paper may not have been sheer enough for the light to properly set the solution around my images. There is probably a good way to use printed images, but printing them onto tracing paper did not work for me, so I won't bother with the instructions on how I did that. If anyone is curious I'd be happy to post a separate tutorial on printing things onto tracing paper instead of copy paper, but I don't see it benefiting this tutorial.
For my second scarf, I had several various headstone designs that I had cut from cardboard for another project that I decided could make a fun, random print for my scarf. I laid the scarf out on a patio table lined with newspaper on a very sunny day, and quickly scattered the cutouts on top of the scarf. I then set a timer for 10 minutes.
Note in the picture that my scarf is already a pretty deep blue color. I don't think it's supposed to be this color, because the first scarf was more of a muted teal/ green color when I first put it in the light. I think this one was only so dark because it was still too soaked with the solution.
After the first timer went off, I lifted a few of the cutouts to see how it was processing. The instructions say that your printing surface will be covered in a dark bronze color when the solution is fully set. My first scarf was already turning brown at this point, but this second attempt was still very much blue. I could see that the spaces under the cutouts were already noticeably different than the background though, and thought it might be fun to do a sort of ombre effect by leaving some cutouts on longer than others, so I took a few off and left others in place.
***Do not do this #3***
There was a very noticeable contrast after 10 minutes, but this did NOT last once the solution was set and rinsed. Just leave your objects in place until the whole thing is set if you want a clear print. However, if you want a more muted, subtle design, this may actually work very well for you.
My first scarf was already done after 20 minutes, but the second needed to be left out longer. After another 10 minutes, I could see a few places where my fabric was starting to turn a brownish color, but it was still wet in places and not anything close to a dark bronze yet, so I let it sit for another 10 minutes.
It had been sitting out for the full recommended 30 minutes at this point, so I went out to check it again. The ends of the scarf were starting to look bronze, but the rest of the scarf was still blue and many places were still a little damp. What was more troubling was that some of the places where I had removed my objects were almost indistinguishable from the background. I put the cutouts back as quickly as I could, but I think the damage was already done.
I kept checking every 10 minutes until the scarf was completely dry. Since the directions said that it was better to overexpose than underexpose your print, I kept waiting to see if the whole scarf would turn bronze. After an hour and 10 minutes, the scarf was still very much blue and not bronze, but was completely dry and had stopped changing color. I had left several of the cutouts off for the last 20 minutes so I could keep track of any color changes, and I could see that it hadn't changed colors in a while, so I guessed that the print was set.
The next step is to wash your surface thoroughly for at least 5 minutes. The instructions didn't specify if I should use detergent or not, so I put a small amount of color-safe laundry soap into a plastic tub along with some water, and carefully scrubbed the scarf for 7 minutes both times.
The first scarf clearly failed even before it was rinsed, because there were large patches of white all over and the print didn't turn out very dark. When I rinsed it, it didn't turn a nice deep cyan color, it turned a barely visible baby blue. It's still a pretty scarf, just not a nice print at all.
The second looked great before I washed out the solution. It wasn't bronze, but the prints were clear and distinct, even if they didn't have the fun ombre effect I'd hoped for. Unfortunately, once the solution was washed out, this was no longer the case. The scarf itself is a beautiful color, and the print is still somewhat visible from up close, it's just very, *very* subtle. It's more visible from the other, "ugly" side, but that side also has a lot of white spots and doesn't have the same pretty, rich color to it, so I don't think I'll want to wear the scarf with that side showing.
So I'll conclude that if you follow the directions *exactly*, this is probably a very easy and fun way to get a very pretty, unique print on a scarf or any other surface. But if you make the mistakes that I made, you'll get either a spotty scarf with an interesting tie-dye look to it, or a beautiful blue scarf with a VERY subtle print. I think if I were to attempt to use this kit again, it would be much more successful the third time around, but unfortunately I didn't have time to do a third test just yet. I may post another tutorial if I do try the kit again so you can all see what a successful print is supposed to look like, but I think I'll just let this one lie for now. I don't think it's ever a good idea to attempt any project when you're frustrated, especially one you're not familiar or comfortable with yet. I hope none of you are discouraged by my failures though, as I really did enjoy the process.