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How to create solar dye Fine Art prints on paper or fabric using UV reactive pigments.Tip) About?

How to create solar dye Fine Art prints on paper or fabric using UV reactive pigments.

A brief guide on how to use Solar Dye for your printing projects. I will guide you on my experience with using Solarfast dyes by Jacquard Product in the creation of printing on paper and on fabric.

I'll guide you step by step, what bits you will need and things to avoid with some handy tips.

So to begin with creating these fun prints using the power of the sun, you will need to organise yourself first.

STEP #1 - gather all your items

You will need to gather the following materials;

  • Paper (thick) I used Acrylic Painting paper at 350gsm (Anything thicker than 200gsm will do fine)

  • or...

  • Fabric

  • Sponges

  • Opaque ink pen

  • Bulldog clips

  • Masking tape

  • Paper towels

  • Glass pane / Acrylic sheet /Perspex sheet

  • Board / cardboard sheet

  • Rubber gloves ( don't want to stain your hands)

  • Timer (use the one on your phone, you will need this for exposure times)

  • Solarfast dye by Jacquard products


Grab your masking tape and tape along the edges of your surface, whether its paper or fabric, this will give you a nice crisp line and stop the dye from bleeding into areas you want to remain clean.

If you want it to feel more tactile, you don't need to do this part, kudos to your for letting your creativity flow!

"You can watch my video to get a sense of it all "


Creating your design!

With the special Solarfast film you can use the opaque ink pens to draw your design directly onto the film. Make sure to draw on the side that isn't smooth. This will act as the negative, So any Dark areas you apply to the film will not be exposed and will remain white.

Also you can print on these sheets! so any image can be used as your negative!

I printed out my design and used that as a tracing guide as seen pictured above. Set your finished design aside because its time to add the due to the surface!


Now that you have the design ready, it is time to add the dye to your paper or fabric surface.

It's important to work quickly and out of direct sunlight, the dyes will start reacting as soon as they are in contact with UV rays.

  • Wearing your rubber gloves, shake the bottle well.

  • Grab a clean sponge

  • Pop some dye directly on the surface

  • Use the sponge to apply a consistent layer over the entire surface working right up to the edges of your masking tape boundaries.

  • Use paper towels to dab off excess dye

Okay quickly next step!!


Sandwich together in this order

  • Cardboard sheet

  • The prepared dyed surface

  • The design on the film sheet (printed/drawn side up)

  • The perspex sheet (or any other clear surface)

  • Bulldog clip all layers around the edges to secure the print and to keep as flat as possible - (this eliminates fuzzy out of focus lines.)

  • Expose in the sun for 10 minutes (Or however long that specific dye colour calls for, Use your timer for this)

  • After the exposure time is over, take it back inside to a darker room.

Tip: I used a cheap frame from Kmart and took it apart to use the perspex glass and cardboard as they matched in size and are easier to clip back together


Working quickly;

  • Disassemble your exposure set up and take out your exposed print.

  • Run under luke-warm water and gently wash away excess dye

  • You will see the un-exposed areas wash away and appear lighter in colour, The exposed areas will remain vivid

  • Fill your wash basin with Luke warm water and add a tiny amount ( Cap full) of Solarfast Detergent

  • Soak your print on paper or fabric in the detergent water for 5 minutes - This helps to stop the dye from further exposing.

  • After soaking , rinse the detergent off under cold water

  • Let the prints dry out of direct sunlight.

  • For fabric prints it is recommended to machine wash after soaking in the Solarfast detergent as per manufacturer instructions.

Enjoy your prints!

You should have a better idea on the process and what to expect when using Solar dyes, You can see more examples of my work on paper and fabric to help inspire your projects.


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