Monday, 19 March 2012

A Day of Heat Pressing

I spent several hours this morning learning how to use a heat press- sounds more complicated that it actually is. You basically lift a lever, slide your work between the two plates (covered on both sides by a teflon sheet), pull the lever back down and wait for it to ping at you (in this case we were heating it for 45 seconds to get maximum colour impact), then release the lever and remove your work- taking care not to burn yourself and the people around you in the process!
For those who have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, a heat press machine can be used to transfer colour onto fabrics by using heat transfer papers which come in a veritable rainbow of colours. You can work directly with the transfer papers, cutting shapes out and collaging onto your fabric, or throw some lacy fabrics, feathers and other flat objects into the mix to get some interesting resist shapes, or use photocopies. I like the photocopy technique personally, although it takes a bit longer than the other two processes.
(I will probably make a terrible job of explaining this without photos but I will give it a go).
You can transfer your image onto the heat transfer papers themselves by simply heating the photo and the paper together. The clever part comes when you peel off the transfer paper, place it onto the fabric and reheat, as the pattern on the photocopy will also be transferred onto the fabric. The fun doesn't end here however, as the photocopy you have used can also be put onto the fabric, and the part that was coloured will print onto the fabric as well, offering a kind of negative and positive print.
You can layer colours and prints as much as you like to build up a pattern- here are my samples!

This is my first ever one so please don't laugh. It has the coloured photocopy technique, which is what the lotus pod shapes are, as well as some stencilled resists.

 This one features the coloured photocopy, and the transfer paper used to colour the photocopy- the heat transfer paper is the stronger coloured side. Then over the top is a cut out transfer paper which has had a different pattern heated onto it-- see? Not that complicated really.

 Some detailing from the above sample.

 Using some leftover remnants.

So it was a fantastically fun day! The next taught technique is free machine embroidery (although I already know how to do that, so I will let you know how that one goes!)

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