stencil printing using indigo paste

Stencil printing using indigo paste on fabric

This is a blog post on stencil printing using indigo paste on fabric. I have a great passion for using natural dyes in many forms. I have been growing Japanese (also known as Perscaria tinctoria) indigo plants in my garden for a number of years now. Here is how to grow them at home. Every year I try to make as useful as I can out of this wonderful dye plant. stencil printing is one of them as stencils can make lovely prints out of indigo dye plants. It is pretty easy to do and quite straightforward compared to making indigo vats.

Top printed with fresh indigo paste

I have previously written a blog post on how to dye fresh Japanese indigo leaves. Over the years I have studied this process in greater detail and managed to get blue instead of green color out of fresh indigo. Protein fibers like silk and wool are much easier to get blue color. Whereas, cellulose fibres are not impossible but require more steps and the outcome may not be as strong and vibrant as on protein fibers.

Stencil printing on fabric using indigo paste

Prepare or make the stencil ahead of time as the process needs to be quick so as to obtain blue color. I use ordinary acetate film that can be bought from a stationery shop. For more eco-friendly products use a waterproof card as ordinary cardboard wouldn’t work. Cut out the desired pattern.

Indigo paste printed using stencil over previously print

Prepare the indigo paste

Always use freshly harvested Japanese indigo leaves. Have some ice water and ice cubes ready. One also needs a spicy or bullet blender or smoothie blender. Plus a water-dissolvable thickener like alginate (Manutex) or guar gum. Don’t harvest too many indigo leaves at a go. Just harvest enough to make the stencil there and then. It depends on how much space there is around.

Fabric printed with fresh indigo leaves after drying

Once the leaves are harvested blend them up to a smooth paste and use a bit of cold water to loosen the paste. Then add the thickener, add enough to thicken it so that it doesn’t bleed. The amount depends on how much water is added to the indigo leaves and how much indigo is blended.

Then it is all set for stencil printing. When printing careful l of the print paste bleeding into the stencil. I have printed over the freshly thickened stencil over the old ones that are older and more diluted. The more concentrated the paste the stronger the print. The blue color might not show after initial printing but after washing with neutral ph mild soap it will show.

Good luck and thank you for dropping by.

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