Monday 14 September 2015

Lemon Juice - The Eco Friendly Paint

You all probably remember the secret writing with lemon juice that could only been seen when you held it to a candle.  Well, that and a recent (last year) article in Quilting Arts, got me thinking and wanting to do some printing with lemon juice, as I loved the scorched brown look when you took an iron to the lemon painting. 

Lemon Juice painted onto flour sack fabric

Painting with lemon juice on paper is not too bad, but on fabric, not so easy. As lemon juice is thin and is absorbed by the fabric very quickly, you are unable to make distinct lines.  

Thermofax screen onto Tissue Tex, 
using the Sodium Alginate and Lemon Juice mixture 
So, I have been experimenting with thickeners or carriers for the juice and after lots of failures, I think I have come up with a couple of “formulas” that work and allow you to use the lemon juice with thermofax screens and stencils to produce images on paper or fabric, that are sharper than you can “paint”, but still with some softness.  Here is a sample of a screened image on Tissue Tex paper:

 It is all depends on what sort of look you want, and if you want to have really crisp images, paint your fabric with “No Flow” by Jacquard™ prior to using.

The first workable mix is the Print Mix out of Ann Johnston's book, Color By Accident (Page 92). This thickened print mix can be mixed with lemon juice, on an approximate 2:1 ratio of print mix to lemon juice. You may need to add a little more lemon juice, depending on your environment. The mix needs to be as thick as apple sauce, otherwise it will be too runny and not produce a clear image through the stencil or screen.

Another simpler mix, which I prefer,  is to simply  make up a mixture of lemon juice and sodium alginate.  Make up this mix by adding 1 1/2 - 2 tsps of sodium alginate to 1/4 cup of lemon juice.   Having the lemon juice at room temperature makes mixing this up easier. Start with 1 1/2 tsps of the alginate and stir the mixture constantly for at least five minutes. Again, the mixture should be the consistency of apple sauce, so adjust the lemon juice accordingly. Let it stand for a couple of hours before using to ensure that all the sodium alginate is dissolved.

SA/Lemon Juice sponged over dried hot glue gun stencils

Once you print onto your fabric, or paper, let it dry completely.  Your image will either appear non-existent, or very faint.  Iron the fabric or paper with an iron on the hottest setting you can use on the particular fabric or paper without burning it. Continue moving the iron around the fabric until the image appears. The longer you iron the image, the browner it will become.  If you are ironing paper, you should put it between two pieces of parchment paper to prevent any burning. You can also use a heat gun to make the image appear, but ironing is generally faster.
SA/Lemon Juice sponged through stencil
(left) and through screen (right). Fabric was
painted with No Flow first.

The thing that I like the best about the Sodium Alginate/Lemon Juice mixture is the graininess you get. It can be very effective and add interest to the print.

SA/Lemon Juice screened onto Lutradur

This method worked for screening images onto handmade paper, Tissuetex, cotton and silk fabrics, silk organza, and it also worked screening onto fusible web.  The tricky thing about the fusible web is that you will not see the image until you iron it onto a fabric. This image is very grainy and indistinct.

There is more experimentation to come!
SA/Lemon Juice through screen onto deli paper.

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