A heat press is a machine engineered to imprint a design or graphic on a substrate, such as a t-shirt, with the application of heat and pressure for a preset period of time. While heat presses are often used to apply designs to fabrics, specially designed presses can also be used to imprint designs on mugs, plates, jigsaw puzzles, caps, and other products.  The pattern is printed in sublimating ink onto paper/fabric which allows the pattern to transfer. Some highly effective patterns and great effects can be obtained using this technique.

Week 4 of Print – as the time has progressed I have begun to enjoy this Print journey more and more.

Steve introduced us to the Heat Press/Heat Transfer Paints today, a technique/process that I have never used before. The first step to creating these heat press prints involved designing patterns, shapes or observational drawings on paper. My initial inspiration came from drawings of marble, I had undertaken at the V&A Museum; primarily looking at pattern and shape. I wanted these designs to appear organic and fluid, much like the pattern within marble.



Patterns and shapes were created by spilling heat transfer paint onto paper and painting, blowing, dripping and sandwiching between two sheets of paper; results were better than expected. Colours were chosen specifically to interpret those found within the marble. For me, the most useful aspect of these experimental studies arose from the organic and spontaneous nature of the paint. By manipulating the paint further, I was able to construct shapes  extremely similar to that found in the marble.

Steve informed/warned me that the the colour saturation of the paint would intensify 2-3 times that of what was painted on the transfer surface. For me, the most important experience gained from these experiments would be the mistakes I make, without these mistakes I cannot grow and hone each technique properly.

Unfortunately, the fabrics that had been promised to Steve, had not arrived yet again. This in turn meant the exploration of heat transfer imagery would be carried on on one fabric only. The fabric in question was the same as I had previously used within the heat setting session. Nevertheless, I strove to make do with what I had, and began the process of experimentation, exploration and merging my ideas into a cohesive and dynamic narrative.

Whilst waiting for Steve to cut and appropriate the fabric, I decided to use the time to create further heat transfer paint designs. The Autumnal foliage falling from the plants and trees offered up a printing bounty, to good to pass up; leaves, stems, stalks and dried seed heads were all incorporated within my exploratory studies. At first, I felt that these natural printing instruments may seem a little obvious, but then thought the onus it is on  me to juxtapose them in a way that reflects my visual language, and showcases them in a new and exciting way.

A simple range of colours was used to denote the changing season/weather; this too could be explained by my personal preference when utilising colour.

(Above) At the last hour of the day, the fabric that Steve had ordered……….actually arrived!!! One of the new fabrics that was now available to sample was a Synthetic Polyester Suedette in Solarno White, and the resulting prints came alive, bursting with colour. Often, this colour was a little on the gaudy side; this new fabric intensified the colour, but subsequently I realised that this was not always for the best.


(Above) Demonstrating the difference of colour saturation between the use of different material/fabric. (Top) Using Fine Polyester (Bottom) Using Polyester Suedette.

Having experienced firsthand the intensity of the colour when using the heat press, I have learned that I have developed an understanding of what colour will work in conjunction with another. This is why it has been imperative for me to experiment with many different colours and processes.

Utilising the rest of the natural (lavender stalk, cotoneaster & cow parsley) printing ‘equipment’ to demonstrate the power of using other material to create a relief/negative visual against a positive background. This technique can be reversed by painting the material directly, and printing it via the heat press; so as to create a detailed print of the object directly. I have significantly improved my knowledge of this technique/process, and means I will explore it further by using far more different materials, both natural and synthetic.

To capture a vivid and sharp design, I now know to utilise a far stronger background colour; intricate structural detail of the plant has been lost against the insipid/lack of colour background. The fabric will need to be changed too.

How could I increase the vibrancy of the fine polyester prints? The translucent nature of the cloth lacked a sharpness evident within my work. Could I mesh more than one print together? This ties in perfectly with my Constellation subject of THE MESHWORK OF OBJECTS; taking the principle of when a thing stops working, it becomes an object. This object can therefore be meshed together with other ‘non-working’ things, to create an object I can enjoy.

THE MESHWORK OF OBJECTS!!!! As a next step, I will incorporate stitch into some of these designs. This will allow me to learn about what works, and doesn’t, for me asa practitioner; creating my own visual language.

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