How to sublimation print

I was introduced to the wonders of sublimation printing (or dyeing) by the wonderful textile artist Cas Holmes. I developed what I learned into a multi-layer effect that looks like swimming in plant-entangled waters. I just love that you can never really manipulate the outcome, but that you can put enough thought into it to get close to some sort of control.

Here’s how it’s done

  1. Lay down your fabric – must be at least 60% synthetic or it won’t hold the dye well, if at all.
  2. Lay down your stuff, leaves and paper-punch thingies in this case but you can use things like pins and rubber bands. Don’t use anything that will melt under heat.
  3. Lay your sublimation papers face down – oh how many times I’ve put them face up – start with lighter colours first.
  4. Iron hard – I use a flat iron with no steam holes; if you have a steam iron switch it off.
  5. Remove the sublimation papers which are now spent for the most part but can be used for collage.
  6. Move the ‘stuff’ ever so slightly, flip some of the stuff over (it will have absorbed the sublimation colour and can reprint it) and lay down new sublimation papers, getting darker as you go.
  7. Repeat until desired effect is achieved.

The white parts are where the sublimation papers have never hit the fabric. The coloured leaves are where I turned those sprigs over to set down the colour they had collected on a previous print run.

Please contact me if you would like to know where to buy ready made sublimation papers. Alternatively you can make your own using fabric transfer dye or fabric transfer paint.