Dropcloth Monoprinting: Techniques with Intention

Experimentation is the key to artistic discovery. Asking "What if?" and embracing happy accidents can teach you so much about art techniques and, more importantly, how you can develop your own style with those techniques.

dropcloth monoprint krawczyk
This dropcloth fabric pattern could be the result of months
on the printmaking table, but it was actually accomplished
with Lynn Krawczyk's gelatin monoprinting technique.

But there comes a time when making a series of experiments isn't enough. You want to use the knowledge gained to create a finished piece of art. To use your discoveries with intent.

That's the concept behind Lynn Krawczyk's new book, Intentional Printing: Simple Techniques for Inspired Fabric Art.

The book is full of monoprinting and other printmaking techniques, as well as projects for using the techniques and examples from other artists.

The monprinting technique I'm showing here–a form of gelatin printmaking–perfectly illustrates how Lynn makes the experimental intentional. Early in the book she recommends you save your canvas dropcloths to cut up and use the random paint markings in future works.

Later, she shows how you can create dropcloth printing on purpose, using a Gelli ArtsTM plate and 2-3 colors of leftover fabric paint. This particular technique is well-suited as the base layer for additional printing techniques, stitching, etc.

Note: The Gelli Arts plate makes it really easy to move the paint around for random patterning. If you were to work directly on fabric for this technique, it would soak in before you had a chance to move it around. A homemade gelatin plate does not work as well for this technique, because it is too fragile, Lynn says.

dropcloth monoprint krawczyk
Lynn uses three colors and a small Gelli
plate to print random patterns onto her fabric.


1. Using a separate plastic spoon for each color, put a small amount of each paint color on the plate (fig. 1).

2. With a palette knife, lightly push the paint around to create random patterns (fig. 2). Tread lightly so you don't nick your plate. And don't blend too much or you'll lose the individual colors.

3. Pick up the plate and use it like a stamp, quickly touching it down on the fabric (figs. 3 and 4).

4. Fold the fabric over on itself, and pat it to print the paint onto blank areas that weren't stamped (figs. 5 and 6). You're basically creating monoprints from the areas you just stamped. Don't scrub the fabric together; that will cause you to lose patterning altogether.

5. Continue to add paint to the plate, one or two colors at a time, and stamp them onto the fabric in areas that need filling.

Note: Take caution with how much you fold the fabric over. Just like putting the paint on the plate, the more you fold it over and print over top of previous areas, the more you blend the colors into a single tone.

6. "Clean" your palette knife by swiping it across any areas that could still use some paint.

7. When you're done adding paint, clean off your plate with water and a soft paper towel before the paint can dry.

dropcloth monoprint krawczyk
Folding over the monoprint.

Drop-cloth printing does add quite a bit of stiffness to the fabric because of the amount of paint used, but the effect is well worth it, and it's amazingly fun to do, says Lynn.

If you make up a bunch of these base dropcloth monoprints, you'll have a prepped substrate when the spirit moves you to create.

Whether you print on paper, fabric, or both, I predict you will love the techniques and inspiration in Intentional Printing. Experiment with them, as "What if?" and then create with intention.

P.S. Do you find yourself always experimenting, or do you use your experiments in intentional ways? Leave  comment below.




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