Solar Fast Dyes – catching some rays

Dyes to Print using the SunNeed something fun to do in the sun? Make the most of the bright sunshine to create detailed prints without a camera!

Jacquard Solar Fast dyes are used to create photograms, continuous tone photographs, shadow prints, and ombrès on fabric and paper. They develop their colour and become permanent upon exposure to UV light, most easily sourced from the summer sun.

How do Solar Fast Dyes work?

The dyes are activated when exposed to sunlight, this means that anything that blocks the light from reaching the fabric or paper will cause no colour change in the dye. This is similar to the photographic technique of Cyanotype Blue Printing. The main difference is that Solar Fast dyes are available in a wide range of colours.

You don’t need to create complex designs in order to achieve brilliant effects. Simple masks such as leaves, keys and cardboard cut-outs can be used.

Using the Sun for Prints

To prevent shadows and blurring, use objects that are flat and make contact with the surface. The best sunlight is when the sun is directly above the mask and this will create a sharp image. Sunlight in the early morning or late afternoon will cast long shadows causing distortion and blurriness in the final print, although this may be an effect you wish to achieve!

Printing photographs with Solar Fast

Print photographs from negativesYou can make a print from a photograph using Solar Fast Film. This helpful product is inkjet printable and gives the option to print photos from a computer. The film is transparent and will allow different levels of light through to the dye beneath, depending on how dark or light the image is. To create a good copy you will need to choose an image with good tonal variety.  For the purist, a negative of the image can be produced with photo editing software.

Screen Printing with Solar Fast

Jacquard also offer a Solar Fast Thickener which when mixed with Solar Fast dye increases its viscosity to a point where it can be used with a printing screen. If you are an adventurous screen printer you will love the different effects that can be achieve using this in conjunction with other types of media.

Finishing your Print

Your prints will be permanent on both paper and fabric. Solar Fast wash will help to remove the residue of undeveloped dye from prints on fabric and prevent the colours from running. This is especially important for preserving white areas and highlights.

You can learn more about how to use the Jacquard Solar Fast dyes from this PDF created by the manufacturer, and results for light exposure times for each colour can be viewed here.

Please visit the Light Sensitive Printing section of our website to get started with Solar Fast printing.

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