The Secret To Superior Ink Painting Results

11 May 2010

I love it when there is a simple solution to a problem, especially when that solution is readily available and inexpensive.

I had one of those aha! moments when I sat down with Judy Coates Perez at International Quilt Festival last year and taped a segment for "Quilting Arts TV" Series 500 on fabric painting. The Tsukineko inks Judy uses to accomplish her amazing fabric paintings are not water soluble. So, how does she change the intensity of the ink color to get her fabulous shading? Clear aloe vera gel!

Not only does aloe vera gel allow you to dilute the ink, but you can mix colors with it, too. And, provided you use a light hand in adding the gel, it helps prevent the ink from spreading.

Here are Judy's tips for painting with ink and aloe vera gel. With her tricks and some practice, you could achieve the kinds of results that have won Judy numerous awards.

  1. Use pfd (prepared for dyeing) fabric or prewash fabrics to remove any sizing or finishes before painting with inks.
  2. All-Purpose ink colors are bright, saturated, and translucent and cannot be diluted with water, so clear aloe vera gel is used to create a range of values with the ink color when using a paintbrush or Fantastix coloring tool.
  3. To begin, use an eyedropper or similar tool to remove small amounts of ink from the bottle and drop onto a paint tray. Squirt about a teaspoon of aloe vera gel next to it. Add a small amount of aloe vera gel to the ink to lighten the color. For very light tints of color add a small amount of ink to the aloe vera gel and mix together.
  4. The benefit of working with this method is the ability to mix colors on a palette the way you would with other paints. Because these inks are transparent you need to work from light to dark while building up the color, much like you would working with watercolor paints.
  5. If the fabric begins to get too wet with ink the colors may bleed, if you notice this happening, stop painting in that location and work in another area and come back to it when the fabric has air dried.
  6. Heat set the painted image with an iron (fabric press cloth on top) to make the image permanent. You can then go back and paint on top of the image with more ink and it will not bleed into the previous heat set color.
  7. After heat setting, the aloe vera gel can be rinsed out of the fabric with water.

It's as simple as that, especially when you watch Judy in the process of mixing and applying the ink and gel to the fabric to make gorgeous designs.


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machineit wrote
on 11 May 2010 6:12 PM

My students make sky fabric with PFD fabric, clouds cut out of freezer paper and ironed down, then presist (which is washable and can be ironed and still washes out) dabbed all around the edges of the clouds. These are pinned down to a flat surface (foam core covered with shelf paper) then sprayed. Pebeo Setacolor transparent paint, Tsukineko Ink and water are mixed with water and sprayed over the fabric. Do not move until it dries (I spay on the driveway). Heat set, remove the freezer paper and wash out the presist and you will have a unique sky fabric done in blue or sunset colors. Fabric for fur is sprayed and sprinkled with salt, bushes and trees painted with the ink then sprayed with background fabric. Fun!