Textile project: How to Sponge?

Sponging is a simple and effective method of adding texture to the cloth, and produces excellent results when using as the background for other decorative finishes such as stencilling or block printing. However, this technique does not have to be carried out with the sponge – you can create similar effects by printing with screwed-up pieces of cloth or kitchen paper.

To achieve a successful result, make sure that you dab off excess paint from the sponge onto absorbent kitchen paper before you apply the sponge to the fabric. This will prevent the design from looking smudged and watery.

If you choose to sponge in more than one colour, it is best to start with the lightest shade first and then progress to the darker colours. A simple method of doing this is to thin the first shade of fabric paint with water and thenadd a darker shade of paint, a little at a time, until the desired hue is arrived at.

sponge 3

Material you need

– fabric, iron, print table, masking tape, fabric paints, saucer, sponge, absorbent kitchen paper

How to make it

1 As with all painting and dyeing  projects, it is important that before you start sponging you wash your selected cloth in hot, soapy water to remove grease or manufacturer’s finishes. Next, rinse the cloth under the clear, running water and leave to dry before ironing flat. Place the prepared cloth on a print table and secure the corners with masking tape.

Pour a little fabric paint into a clean saucer and dilute it with enough water to produce a pale colour and a ‘single cream’ consistency.

sponge 1

2 Dip a clean, dry sponge into a saucer of paint, the dab off any excess paint onto a kitchen paper. Gently dab the sponge in random patches over the prepared cloth, making sure that you leave gap between the individual marks. As the colour on the cloth starts to lighten and the sponge begins to dry out, dip it into the paint again, dab off excess paint and continue sponging in the same manner.

Once you are satisfied with the first colour application, leave the fabric to dry flat before applying additional colour in the same way. While the fabric is drying, rinse the sponge in warm water and leave to dry. It is important that the sponge is completely dry when it is dipped into the paint, since a wet sponge will dilute the paint further and result in a smeary image on the cloth.

sponge 2

3 To create a deeper shade of fabric paint, pour a couple of drops of undiluted paint into the diluted mixture already in the saucer and mix the colours together until the desired colour is arrived at. The second colour should be the consistency of  ‘double cream’.

Next, dip the clean, dry sponge into the paint, dab off the excess paint and moisture and apply further colour to the fabric. The second colour application should slightly overlap the first to produce a two-tone effect.

If required, additional colours can be applied at this stage, although you should make sure that the previous paint application is completely dry before applying a new colour.

If you want to add further paint finishes to the cloth – for example, a stencilled design – you should do it at this stage.

4 Once you are happy with your sponged design, leave the fabric to dry flat. Finally, fix the paints by pressing the reserve of the cloth using a hot iron.

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