Bonding fabric and paper

I had a great day at Morley College yesterday learning a technique for bonding paper and cloth.

The technique is quite rough, so synthetic fabrics are better than delicate fabrics such as silk. The fabric also has to be as sheer as possible so that the paper can be seen clearly through it. And the paper has to be really low grade. Newspapers or colour photocopies are best – no glossy magazines.

We laid out a collage by cutting or tearing out bits of newspaper/colour photocopies, then pinned a piece of fabric over the top. Then we applied a matte medium through a silk screen. We didn’t prepare the screens ourselves but borrowed screens that were available in the studio.

Some screens were open – you can use paper templates or masking tape as an alternative to exposing the screen, or even paint the medium on using a brush (not sure how this works – I must ask next week).

After leaving the collage to dry thoroughly, we ironed it for 10 minutes to set the bonding thoroughly. Then we soaked it in water and rubbed off the excess paper. (This is why poor-grade paper is used, so that it disintegrates easily.)

Most people chose images for their collage, but I used a mixture of cuttings from Urdu, Hindi and Chinese publications, with occasional blocks of graphic colour, as you can see from the photos. It’s a difficult thing to photograph, owing to the mixture of transparent and opaque areas, so I’ve just shown some close-ups of various areas.

Some points to note:

  • Images that are printed by an inkjet printer tend to run and stain the fabric,  so colour photocopies are better than prints.
  • The more sheer the fabric the better – you’ll be looking at the paper through the fabric (though I guess there’s no reason why you can’t show it from the back).

I also learned that you can use open screens with paper templates – far quicker than coating it, waiting for it to dry and exposing it, given the problems we’ve had with the facilities! Of course, you won’t be able to make multiple copies this way.

And you can use heat transfer papers, foiling or further printing with opaque ink on top, as well as other embellishment such as stitch. Hopefully we’ll get to try some of this next week.