Sunday, September 23, 2012

Getting All Steamed Up!

I have been asked by many of my fellow eco printers to show photos of the steamer I use in the oven for eco printing both on fabric and paper.  I am including 3 photo views and I hope that they are not too small to understand.  One view is the steamer clamped and closed, ready to go into a 225 degree (F) oven for 1 or 1+ 1/2 hrs.  The second view is of the steamer open, with the makings of the steaming unit visible.  The third view is another view of the steamer innards that will hopefully give a good idea of how it is constructed.
Whether you are printing on fabric or paper, the important thing is not to let the steamer run out of water.  Do this by starting with nearly 2 inches of water or dye bath in the bottom pan.  Use whatever rack you have available to hold your bundles or prints above the boiling water.  For paper prints, I lay a ceramic tile on the bottom rack then stack dampened papers and plant materials (up to 11 layers) then place the 2nd ceramic tile on top to weight the pile down for good contact.  Place the 2nd aluminum roasting pan upside down on top of the first pan, and use binder clips, bulldog clips or whatever type of clips you have that will withstand the oven temperature to hold the two pans together during steaming.  Place the steamer in a preheated oven at 225 degrees (F).  Close the oven and let cook for approx. 1 hr. or 1 + 1/2 hrs. Turn off the heat and let the steamer cool in the oven overnight.  The next day, remove the cover pan  and the ceramic tile "bundle" from the steamer.  begin to separate thee layers of paper/plant materials.  If the paper is stuck together tightly, pick the stack up and run cold water over it as you separate the layers.  If plant material sticks to it, it is O.K.  When the print is dry, the vegetative material will usually peel away.  If it doesn't you may hold it under running water until it loosen then dry the print again.  I dry my prints by hanging them like laundry on a clothesline with wooden clothespins.  I hope this is helpful. .