I am a sucker for suminagashi, and so is my eldest daughter. This summer we made suminagashi shirts and enough prints to keep us forever supplied with cool handmade greeting cards. It was tons of fun, and the best part of suminagashi is that anyone can do it and make really amazing prints. It does take some focus though, so it might not be best suited for kids with an attention span shorter than 15-20 minutes.
You will need:
Leftover newspaper and paper towels
A large flat dish that you can fit paper in. I used a pyrex lasagna dish, but you can also use your bathtub which can make multiple prints at a time.
Good quality absorbent paper. Suminagashi also has a neat effect on untreated wood like in cheap photo frames.
Suminagashi ink. This stuff lasts a long time and is perfect for coffee filter prints as well. It is not especially washable.
To make t-shirts or hankies you will also need:
A permanent dyeset (I use Jacquard concentrate)
A large bucket
T-shirts to dye
To get started, fill up the large flat dish with about a half an inch to an inch of water. Different temperatures will make the ink react in different ways, so experiment around a bit. Lay out the newsprint on the table or a hard floor. We do this outside, so the newsprint isn’t as important, but it still helps absorb extra ink. Have your paper and paper towels at the ready.
Next, take out one or two of the small dots that are included with your ink and dip them gently in the water. You can also use small circles of wax paper. These dots help the ink diffuse on top of the water surface instead of sinking to the bottom. Next, choose your favorite color of ink and, very close to the dots, squeeze a drop or two of ink onto the wax paper dots. The ink should spread throughout the water. You can use more ink to get a darker effect and us a paint brush to swirl multiple colors together, making a marbling effect.
When you like the pattern your ink is making, carefully dip a dry piece of paper in the ink (not all the way through the ink, just gently on top) and pull it out as soon as the ink has soaked in. Lay it down on the newspaper and pat it dry with a paper towel. Viola! A beautiful suminigashi print. You can usually make two or three prints without adding more ink. Even if the water looks dirty, you can usually still ad colors and make prints. When your prints start looking brown, it is time to change water.
The process for making t-shirts is pretty much the same. I used our bathtub so that we could cover the entire t-shirt in one dip. T-shirts don’t look as nice if the water has already been used, so it has to be changed more frequently. Once you have dipped the t-shirts, lay them flat to dry and gently pat off the excess ink with a paper towel. Don’t rinse them just yet, and let them completely dry before using the dyeset.
When they are dry, use your permanent dyeset as the instructions direct. With the brand I use, I put a tablespoon of dyeset in a large bucket of water and dip the dry shirts in until they are soaked through. Then I rinse them, hang them to dry, and wash the t-shirts. Then they are ready to go! They look homemade, but the kids wear them with a lot of pride!
What are your favorite summer art projects? And what do you have in store for rainy days ahead?