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I am Discharged

September 22, 2009

The weekend before we headed out to Spain, i was able to take a class at the OCAC on printing with discharge paste held by Jeannette DeNicolis Meyer. Not really knowing what i was getting myself into, but very excited now that i can report I am thrilled about the outcome.


The entire process is fairly safe but the mixing of the paste requires wearing a protective mask. The paste had to be stirred and mixed of various components i had never heard before. Even though i have been living in the states for over 5 years now, i am still getting easily overwhelmed by the measurement units used here. I have gotten proficient with inch, yard and feet but everything else is still a mystery to me. I want my metric system back!!!


The application process is very easy, just with any printing or drawing process, you can use screens, stamps, you can draw or paint directly on the fabric, make a rubbing with an underlying texture, use a stencil… anything is possible. The preparation material stated to use our imagination and bring printable material. So i brought a huge feather from the beach, pine cones Leona and i found in the neighborhood and the fruit of a Kastanien-tree. Of course there was some trial and error – the feather didn’t really work out, the rolling of the pine cone yielded beautiful results and the fruit was just plain messy. With the rubbing it’s important to ensure there is not too much paste on the roller or otherwise the whole piece gets blurry. Screenprinting requires the flooding of the screen first. My initial worry was that most of the examples that were shown looked beautifully on its own but weren’t contemporary enough for my liking – except a method using masking tape. I was very excited once i started experimenting with it and chose to work on a whole pre-died fabric panel i had brought in the afternoon.


I had died a hemp, cotton fabric in a pretty extreme purple two days before and was ready to experiment with it in the afternoon. My hope was to be able to make a sundress or T-shirt dress out of the resulting material.


I pinned the fabric down, applied the masking tape irregularly making sure the white spaces weren’t too prominent. I also wanted to achieve a look that looks a bit messy and not too rigid. However i wanted the resulting fabric to resemble broken up block-stripes.

Once it had dried, i had to peel of the tape and steam iron the whole fabric for the discharge process to activate/set. This is an exciting step as it reveals the results for the first time. With the amount of heat the result can still be impacted. The more steam  the more the discharge paste reacts.. For this purpose it’s a good idea to put the respirator back on again as the steam can release chemicals into the air. According to the supplier information this is an unnecessary precaution but Jeannette asked us to put them on anyways. Once happy with the results, the fabric has to be soaked in water – this finishes the discharge process completely and absolutely no more dye molecule is affected anymore. However, we had to was the fabrics again with a certain washing liquid to get rid of any chemical residue that might have remained in the fabric to avoid other apparel to be contaminated.

Here the end result including a close up spread out in the corridor. I am very happy with the outcome as it turned out to be exactly as i had hoped.

IMG_0478 IMG_0479

One Comment
  1. Abby permalink

    Beautiful! I miss printing and my old studio…I didn’t realize OCAC had classes. I’ll have to look into some. Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to see the lovely dresses you make from it….maybe Mommy and Me look alike dresses???

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