I have been enjoying inkjet printing on fabric since the early 1990s. Since that time, new products have emerged offering artists an extended range of inkjet printing options. Last year I had the pleasure of taking an extended workshop with Mary Taylor in her Marshfield, Mass studio called “Mixed Media Digital Printmaking.” I was the only person in the group who was primarily interested in textile art, although I am very interested in inkjet (and other printing) on various media. Others in the class included photographers and artists using other media such as oils and acrylics. The differences in backgrounds and approaches made the experience very enjoyable.We worked with an Epson 7800 printer, which was perfect for me, and a variety of inkAID precoats.
If you’re not familar with inkAID, it is a liquid used to precoat a variety of surfaces making them receptive to inkjet ink. The precoats work with just about any surface that you an get into your printer, including plastic and aluminum.
We used a variety of precoats to do things such as printing on handmade papers, making custom substrates, transferring images to fresco, printing on black paper and aluminum, creating and printing a “skin,” and more.
Mary works with Dorothy Simpson Krause, an author of the acclaimed book Digital Art Studio
and she was extremely gracious and sharing. If you don’t have Digital Art Studio, I highly recommend it. It has a good deal of the information in it that was covered in the class and more.
The big question for textile artists, and one taken right from inkAID’s website, is:
Q. Can inkAID be used to precoat fabric for printing?
A. inkAID can be used to precoat fabric for use in collage, banners or stretched art. inkAID White-Matte is a very water resistant coating and can be machine washed. For best results use pigment ink for these applications. The clear inkAID pre-coats cannot be used on fabric that will be washed.
Here are a few of the items that I printed in the workshop.
This is an image I took in Wales that is printed on a “skin” — a surface made of several layers of acrylic medium and InkAID that are to a plastic, printed on, and then peeled away from the plastic. The skin can then be placed onto a variety of surfaces. One woman used it to cover a shoe, and it looked great.
Here is the image, with half of it under a mirror. Mary had some images that she printed on skins and applied to a mirror. The effect is very attractive.
This is a photo collage printed onto a fabric. I show it here with some fabrics that may coordinate into a small wallhanging. I haven’t done a thing with it since.
I photographed this butterfly and printed it onto a substrate made from molding paste added to a Lutrador (a spun poly) base. The molding paste was sculpted into different mounds. After the molding paste dried, I painted on a couple coatings of InkAID.
When creating such a substrate, it’s important to confirm that it will fit through the printer. Mary has a nifty gadget to help assist in this regard. It’s called a “slot ruler,” and is easily made with two pieces of square aluminum tubing. What you do is place some pennies between the two piece and duct tape the edges together, removing the pennies after the edges are taped. The Epson printer accepts media up to 1.5mm which apparently is the thickness of a penny. After a substrate was made, we checked it in this device. If it fit through, then we knew it could be printed on. If it didn’t fit through, then we sanded the substrate down and tried again.
This close-up hopefully shows off the dimension of the molding paste.
This is a “fresco” that was applied to a piece of wood. After it dried, we took images that were printed on a transparency and transferred them onto the surface.
This angle shows the wood and thickness of the surface.
If this is something you’d like to try, Mary graciously shares her compete instructions for making a fresco, including suppliers, here. She recommends purchasing gelatin from Gelatin Innovations, a commercial gelatin supply company. The prices are far less than buying boxes at the grocery store.
In addition to InkAID precoats,Golden recently announced its collection of digital precoats that seem very much up the same alley as the inkAID precoats. I received in the mail the set of three which I’ll be experimenting with.
Here is the info on Golden’s digital grounds, and you’ll see they are almost identical.
Golden describes their products as, “GOLDEN Digital Grounds are ink-receptive coatings intended for use with ink-jet printers. They allow the artist to coat and subsequently print over a large variety of substrates including paper, canvas, metal and acrylic paints, using ordinary computer printers and inks.”
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