Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Inaugural Run of Lill Street's New Bullet Steamer!

*** Yet another blog entry done for the Lill Street Textile Blog! Yay Steamer!***

Just yesterday, the students in Screen Printing with Thickened Dye class got to be the first to witness our brand new Bullet steamer in action! Huzzah!

Printing with dye is a lot more tricksy than printing with ink; instead of sitting directly on top of your fabric, dye needs to be chemically bonded with the fibers. Dye powders are mixed with a thickening agent (sodium alginate) to make it print-able but, once the fabric is washed, the only thing remaining attached is the color. Your fabric ends up as soft as it was before you printed on it!

The shiny, new bullet steamer comes into play after you're done printing but before you wash your fabric. All of those chemicals that make up the sodium alginate tend to cause the colors to bleed when you submerge your fabric in water... but with the steamer, the chemicals are STEAMED out! Here's a little slideshow about how we did it in class:

In order to protect our images, we wrapped our fabric in newsprint.

The fabric is fully encased so that it doesn't end up touching other parts of fabric or the metal steamer insert!

Then we rolled the wrapped fabric around the insert so that the paper won't touch the inside of the steamer silo. (Water condenses inside the steamer- but if our fabric gets wet, the colors will bleed before the chemicals have a chance to evaporate!)

After 35 min in the steamer, we remove our fabric and machine wash it in cold water with some tide and a color-catcher. Throw it in the dryer and done!

We will be doing tests throughout the session to figure out the absolute best condition for the steamer to do it's job.

In order for students to be able to use/take advantage of the new steamer, you will have to take a dye printing class (check out the winter catalog, when it becomes available, for next sessions classes) or the upcoming Steamer Basics Workshop: Saturday, October 1st, 2-5pm. Hope to see you there!


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