Release Printing

Late last winter or early in the spring we bought a bunch of plain black T-shirts on sale at a place in Bridgton. The intention was to try something people were doing at the Nature Printing Society meeting last summer, dye release printing fish with soft scrub. The idea is to use the soft scrub instead of ink. The bleach in it bleaches the fabric where you printed, so you get a light colored print on dark.

We finally tried printing, but with leaves rather than fish. You don’t really want to follow these directions very closely, because our results were less than spectacular. I think it depends a lot on the dye in the T-shirts in the first place. Ours didn’t bleach very much the way we did it. Maybe we need more soft scrub, maybe we need to wait longer before rinsing (but when is it so long that the bleach eats away the fabric?), or maybe we need different T-shirts.

We put some newspaper and a piece of heavyweight plastic on the table to protect it. We spread out the T-shirt, with a plastic bag inside to keep the bleach off the back. Arlene composed her design, laying out the leaves she was going to print.

We squirted some soft scrub into a plastic foam meat tray and painted it on the back (more textured side, but we still didn’t get much texture to print. Maybe using a brayer here would have kept the bleach on the veins and made more texture show?) of a leaf with a soft foam brush. The stuff says it can irritate skin, so we figured we might as well protect our hands.

She put the leaf, soft-scrub side down, where she wanted the image, put some newsprint on top, and rolled it with a small soft brayer.

And here are the first four leaves printed:

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