May 5, 2013 § Leave a Comment
In the continuing quest for creating the perfect eco fabric (short of simply re-purposing existing fabrics) I’m experimenting with digital printing.
To date all of my dye and print techniques have resulted in one-only lengths of fabric, with hands on mixing of dyes and inks, fabric preparation, printing, dyeing, clean up, fixing, washing and pressing. The amount of wasted excess dye, water and power use and disposal of salty/soda ash/printing ink infused water made me question if traditional craft methods of surface design is the most eco friendly and sustainable process?
I started thinking about the artists and craftspeople who have health issues from constant contact with raw materials. The build up of accidentally ingested dye powder in the lungs, eczema from handling printing inks and chemicals (gloves don’t work with lino block printing!) the fumes from dyeing with eucalyptus leaves, the caustic effect of soda ash, salt, and constant washing by hand.
So is there a safe and eco friendly method of surface design? Is the artistic integrity in the hand crafted process of creating the fabric? With competition from countries where labour and the cost of living is much lower, yet the skill and level of craftmanship and design is high, is it financially viable to use hand crafted techniques to create one-only fabrics?
A few years ago a friend and I experimented with digital printing on fabrics. A local printer offered sublimation printing (essentially a heat method of bonding dye to synthetic fibres) to placement print our designs. It was exciting to see a digital design that was originally a mixed media collage reproduced on fabric.
However, I didn’t like working with synthetic fabrics.
The next step was find a digital printer that could print on natural fibre, such as silk and cotton. A high quality printer in Sydney was using fibre reactive dyes on pre-treated fabrics. The resulting fabric from other designers looked fantastic, but the set up and printing costs including the special fabrics was too expensive.
Recently I came across a digital printing website in the USA that pigment prints onto natural fibres, with a selection of organic fabrics and silks. The method seems to be extremely low waste, as only the required amount of pigment is used when printing the lengths, with minimal pre and post fabric handling. The printed fabric has no odour or ‘handle’ so is like a dyed fabric. The only down side is that the print is on the surface only, so does not penetrate the fabric like a dye, and like all hand printed fabrics, needs care with washing and drying.
This method of printing is affordable for studio production, especially compared with the cost of making hand crafted fabrics. Digital printing opens experimentation with surface design. Artwork can be scanned into or created on the computer. Whole designs can be the width and (limited) length of the fabric. Hand painted fabrics can be reproduced with some experimentation (as shown in the samples, some adjustment is needed with colour intensity vs fabric choice). Even the look of eucalyptus dyed fabrics can be reproduced, though the integrity of the fabric is questionable!
See the Useful Links page for digital print sources.
February 17, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I’m taking pictures more than anything else at the moment so have moved to Blogspot for every-day stuff; food, art, craft, fashion and anything home town Adelaide or next favourite city, Melbourne. Will still be using WordPress as home base but Blogspot is simpler for images. Feel free to visit, comment, follow, whatever
January 24, 2013 § 2 Comments
This post is a bit late in coming, but thanks to Katie Spain and the Adelaide Magazine for including Eucalypso in ’4 OF THE BEST: Online fashion fixes’ for the month of September, 2012!
December 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
November 30, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Eucalypso Resort at Etsy
Eco friendly hand painted clothing, eucalyptus dyed table linen and natural fibre basketry (newly arrived!)
From now until Christmas we are including a donation to World Vision with any purchase over $50. Donations include school pencils, chickens & eggs, mosquito nets, ducks and more to communities in need, with the gift card passed on to you, see here for more information.