Screenprinting on wool & how to fix dye
  • Hi there,
    I've previously printed on cotton with waterbased ink but this time I want to print on fine wool which will be a scarf, hence I'm looking for a very soft-to-the-touch result. From what I've read here on the forum acid dyes can be used for screenprinting with a thickener.

    My question is how to fix the dye afterwards. I guess when it says 'steaming', an iron on steam setting won't do.
    Do I have to use the stove top steaming technique?
    How much will the screen be affected and how can I get rid of ghost images?

    Thank you very much for your help.
  • If you want to print on wool with a dye, Acid Dyes are your best bet, and steaming is the best option for fixing. All you have to do is thicken the dye with Sodium Alginate (http://www.jacquardproducts.com/sodium-alginate.html), print with it like you would any screen printing ink, allow it to dry and then steam set it. An iron on a steaming setting will NOT do the trick: you'll want to steam either on the stovetop or in a professional steamer (http://www.jacquardproducts.com/steamers.html). It is relatively easy to make your own stovetop steamer. You just want to make sure that you roll your fabric in paper first (with no fabric-on-fabric contact) and that the fabric doesn't get wet during steaming, either from the boiling water or condensation.
    The dye may stain you silkscreen fabric, leaving ghost images in your screen. These may not come off for some time. However, as long as you wash your screen well after printing, you should not have any issues with residual color. One of the nice things about printing with dyes is that there is no risk of in-screen drying: there are no binders to clog your screen, and the thickener will wash out with warm water.
    If steaming seems like too much of an undertaking, you might consider using Versatex Screen Printing Inks (http://www.jacquardproducts.com/versatex-screen-ink.html). These are probably the softest inks available, and while no ink will ever be as soft as dyes (dyes always leave the fabric totally soft), it might be soft enough! A lot of people are blown away by how soft Versatex becomes after washing...
  • Thank you very much, that was really helpful :)
  • New to the group, but have a similar question. I'm looking to screen print a image on a woven wool blanket, and am concerned about the effect steaming might have on the wool. Blankets in question are twin sized, with an image roughly 12" diameter in the blanket center. I noted Asher's response above, but I'm also wondering if the vinyl sulphon product might be easier to use. Any comments would be most appreciated!
  • You can certainly use the CVS dyes for screenprinting on wool. However, printing on wool with dyes generally requires steam setting. The other option is to use a chemical fixative. The fixative could be used in either a pre- or post-application: you could soak the fabric in the fixative, let it dry, and then print on top of it. You would want to use urea in your dye paste (to keep it wet longer), and you would want to batch it (wrap it in plastic to keep it wet and leave it in a warm place for up to 24 hours). The other option would be to print with the dye and then post-treat the fabric with the fixative. This just means submerging the fabric in a warm fixative solution. The challenge with this process is that it sets you up for back staining... I would recommend doing some testing before you commit your blanket to a print... Get some wool similar to your blanket and see which process works best for you. If you want to use CVS dyes, I'd recommend the Permanent Dyeset Concentrate as a fixative (http://www.jacquardproducts.com/permanent-dyeset-concentrate.html). If you use acid dyes, I'd recommend the iDye fixative (http://www.jacquardproducts.com/idye.html). Acid dyes might work better on wool, but especially if you are using red colors, you'll want to be extra careful with your process and formula. For a thickener, use Sodium Alginate SH (http://www.jacquardproducts.com/sodium-alginate.html). You could also use the Print Base Kit (http://www.jacquardproducts.com/print-base-kit.html). Good luck! Let us know if you need any further assistance.