Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Print Tables

Yesterday I mentioned that I would post instructions on how to make your own print tables. They're easy to make and essential if you want to do any printing or stamping on fabric. The "firm softness" of the print table gives much clearer definition and sharper edges to your printing and stamping and since they're so easy there's no reason not to make at least one! I have five of them because I take them when I'm teaching, they're portable and easy to lift in and out of the car. I would love to have a dedicated table at home, just for printing but these are the next best thing as I can lift them on and off the art table and store them upright in a corner of my room. Since I have a few of them I can print a piece of fabric, put it to one side to dry, then go on to make another and another on the other tables.

I've purchased plywood already cut to 24" x 24" (good for fat quarters) and 24" x 48" (good for 1/2 yard cuts), its about 1/2" thick, and rough finished on both sides. Check the weight of the plywood and make certain its not too heavy to lift easily. You'll probably want to move it around your studio from time to time.

I stretch 3 layers of cotton batting over the plywood and staple gun the edges on the back. Make certain you have a good 2" extra on all four sides to bring around to the back. Its really much easier to have someone to help you with this.

I have used pieces of batting that I've joined together with a butted seam (don't overlap edges or you'll get bumps on the top). You can also use industrial felt, old blankets or towels. Just make certain that the product is absorbent and will stand up to heat and steam. Avoid anything too bouncy such as polyester batting or synthetics.

The top layer is a medium-heavy muslin or unbleached cotton. A lighter coloured fabric is easier on the eyes and you can see if images are running through your printing fabric. Avoid thinner fabrics as they can rip too easily. Staple this layer (or two) separately to the back of the plywood, again stretching well but not straining the fabric. By stapling the batting and the muslin separately it is easy to replace the muslin when it becomes too stained. You can also try using the stained muslin as an interesting piece of art cloth!
Now you are ready to use your print table, the thick batting means its easy to pin your fabrics into the table (I use T pins so I can print right over them). They are portable and you'll probably want more than just one!

In my perfect world, I'd love a 4" x 8" sheet of plywood made up into table for larger printing, but what I have works well for me. You can also make a table from foam core (Michaels has 1/2" thick sheets), thicker sheets of styrofoam or heavy cardboard. Try it!

1 comment:

Sarah Ann Smith said...

I don't do a lot of surface design, so I use my old Cut N Press... it is 1/4" plywood, some batting (and possibly a bit of foam?), and canvas twill. When it got groady, I fused some silver ironing-board-cover cloth to it. I now use this old one for fusing only, with an applique press sheet on top.

I had a lightbulb moment and left the press-sheet on top, and now it is paint-stained...serves the same function as a plastic sheet.

Anyway, this idea might be a makeshift classroom option for your students! HTH,
Cheers, Sarah