Sun Printing on Fabric

A selection of fabrics created by Lisa Chin using sun printing.
A few examples of sun printing by Lisa Chin.

In my family, there are several accountants, so Tax Day marks the end of working around the clock and the beginning of free time to be filled with activities and adventures. This, paired with the beautiful spring weather, is making my desire to be outside harder and harder to ignore.

Surface design techniques are my goto this time of year–they allow me to spend time outside while working on a project or two. Plus, it’s easy to invite a few friends and family members over to experiment with various surface design methods while simultaneously reintroducing them to life outside of their offices. My technique of choice for this reemergence into the great outdoors is sun printing.

What’s not to love about relaxing in the warm weather as the sun works its surface design magic?  If you find yourself asking ‘what is sun printing and how does it work?,’ surface design artist and art quilter Lisa Chin has the answers to these questions and more.

Sun print by Lisa Chin
Lisa used nuts and washers as masks for this sun print.

Here is a quick explanation of sun printing using transparent fabric paint, like Pēbēo Setacolor, and masks, like leaves, stencils, or even nuts and washers, from Lisa:

Sun printing is about heat and evaporation. The sun provides heat, which wicks the water and paint pigments out from under a mask. The water evaporates, leaving the pigments behind. This process results in a darker painted area around the mask. Because of the need for evaporation, sun prints take much longer to create on humid days than on dry ones, even if the sun is shining overhead.

Wind is not your friend when sun printing. If there is a light wind, I place strips of plastic wrap over the masks so they don’t blow away. However, this may cause moisture to be trapped and extend the drying time. If there is a gusty or heavy wind, I reschedule to another day. – LC

If the wind or weather isn’t cooperating, if you are slowly trying to acclimate to the sunshine after months indoors, or if you suffer from instant sunburn like I do, you can bring your sun printing inside.  Check out this FREE tutorial from Lisa (a Tax Day treat!) where she teaches us the basics of sun printing both indoors and out.

Happy printing!

Brenna's Signature

P.S. Want to see sun printing on fabric in action? Watch Lisa’s explanation and demonstration when you order your copy of Quilting Arts TV Series 1700. Or download your copy instantly for surface design and art quilting inspiration galore.

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Fabric Painting & Dyeing, Quilting Daily Blog

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