Used under license from Adobe Stock Photos.

Little did I know when, we, the bloggers of UKQU were set a task of doing a blog based on a flower and that a few weeks later the world would learn that the Sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine, and their national colours are blue and yellow. It has made me question how little we know of the world and the chosen flowers of each country. For example, Ireland has the Shamrock representing the holy trinity, Scotland has the Thistle as it’s a symbol of defence, Wales has the Daffodil and the Leek and England has the rose, the Tudor Rose with the red outer and white centre.

I was given the challenge of the Protea flower to work with. I had to do some research as flowers and I never go together. I discovered there was over 1500 species of Protea so finding one I wanted to work with was a challenge in itself. I had chosen to do this project in a mixed media format. It is because I like making things harder for myself?

This is some of what I found out about the Protea:

• Australia has the greatest diversity of species

• The King Protea (Protea Cynaroides) took the title of South Africa’s national flower in 1976

• Proteas can survive wildfires

I have chosen to work with the Queen Protea, mainly because the image I found, allowed me to do what I had in mind for this blog.

Please note, the image I used I purchased a license for it from adobe stock photos.  Be aware of copyright issues if using images that are not your own.

Over the years my style has changed and I have allowed myself to become more creative and daring in my skill set. I no longer fear failure, which is just as well as a few things did not go as planned while working on this blog. I write blogs as I explore the creative, experimental and learning so nothing is set in stone and sometimes it means I do not always meet the deadlines. I know this will have to improve.

It also means that sometimes things cannot be finished at the point the blog needs to go to press. This is one of those blogs. However, the nature of this blog is to inspire you the reader to branch out and experiment yourself and find your own way of working.

The mixed media approach I have chosen to discuss is printing with your printer directly onto the fabric.

Writing this next section as more of a how to guide.

Before you begin you will need the following items:

Inkjet printer: Mine is HP but you can do this with other brands.

Freezer paper:

Fabric:

I used Calico; pre-washed or scoured. It will need to be ironed very well.

Scissors or Rotary Cutter and an A4 piece of paper:

Use this paper to cut a slightly larger size of freezer paper.

Ruler:

Image to work with:

Used under license from Adobe Stock Photos.

How to:

1. Iron your chosen fabric so that it is flat as you can get it. I recommend Calico pre washed or scoured. To scour, is to wash fabric and rub fabric together with itself to remove any manufacturing chemicals.

2. Using the piece of A4 paper as a guide cut out the freezer paper so it is slightly larger than A4 size.

3. Iron the freezer paper onto the fabric, shiny side towards the fabric. Using a hot iron with STEAM TURNED OFF, press flat until all the paper is stuck down and allow to cool before cutting further.

4. Place the A4 paper on top of the freezer paper and using a ruler cut as near as possible along the edge of the paper, avoiding wavy lines or jagged tears.

5. Do a test on the printer to see which way round your printer takes in the paper. To do this: write on the paper:

6. Place paper into printer, if you have a rough idea of how your printer takes the paper in, go from there.

7. Using a basic text programme, I find Note Pad on windows works well, write anything you can understand.

8. Print it out, if it is the correct way round then the writing on the page will match with your printed message. If not repeat from step 6 again, placing the paper in with a different orientation, for example having the writing face up instead of face down.

9. Now take your prepared fabric and place it into your printer’s paper tray. Set the image to the highest quality level your printer will allow and print. Please note: that sometimes the page will go through by just placing it in the printer by itself, other times it needs to sit on top of a pile of paper. Each printer is slightly different and it’s a case of finding what way works for yours.

 

10. Once printed out, lay it flat on a hard surface and leave to dry for at least three hours.

11. After three hours you can then remove the freezer paper and allow for the fabric to sit for a few more hours as some older inks can take longer to dry. I normally leave over night.

12. What you should have is a nice image on fabric.

I printed two images off, one in normal quality and one in best. The printer is a new one and I wanted to see what the difference was.

At this stage I was not sure how I was going to use these. I soaked them both in a large bucket of water with a product called Retayne. I followed the products instructions and continued to soak the fabric for the allotted time. Please remember safety first when using any product, gloves and in some cases safety mask and goggles, in a well vented room.

I rinsed and left them to dry. I was very disappointed with the results, and like I wrote above, I am not sure where this project is going. The normal version lost more colour then the best version and some of the picture was no longer as clear as I would have liked. I had not used pre washed or scoured the fabric beforehand, this may have added to the failure. I also noticed, that the project Retayne said future washes would need to be cold water only, and as this site is primarily quilting, most would require projects to be washed. This product would be fine if using for making a project that would not be washed.

Rather than scrap it completely, I decided to give it another go. This time I scoured the fabric before hand and printed it in the highest quality. It came out similar to the previous best version, so no noticeable differences were apparent there.

However this time, I was going to work stitches into the fabric and picture while I had a clearer image. I chose to back the image with another piece of fabric to add stability; I used calico as this will help me work with the project and as it was the same fabric as the image was printed on, it would wash and behave the same way.

My aim is to embroider key details into the flower, so when I wash it again, those details will remain. However, I plan to wash it in a mixture of salt and soda to set the ink this time. As I have not tried this setting method I have no idea how it will turn out. This is something we will have to wait and see.

I have hooped my image and have started to work into it. However, as this is slow stitched this project may not be finished for a while.

 

But I wanted to make the deadline, and also at the same time tease you the reader, because I will post updates with what I do with these images over the next few months.

So please watch this space…

… And in the mean time, I hope you start to have a play yourselves.The Cheap Procrastinator: Mixed Media Queen Protea

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