For the past few weeks I have been spending Tuesday evenings at Ochre Print Studio’s in Guildford learning the technique of Devore printing onto textiles. Devore come from the French and means to devour, and this is exactly what the paste does, it simply devours the fibres which make up the fabric. Originally developed in 17th century France it was used to create a lacy effect on the clothing of poor people, and even today it is commonly used as a luxury decorative effect on clothes and furnishings.
The whole process starts with a drawing suitable to be used as a stencil which is then transferred onto a silk screen ready for the printing process. I drew a simple Japanese inspired floral motif. The devore paste is made up and then pulled through the screen to leave the design motif on the fabric beneath. This method provides the most even results, although it can also be painted on. Devore is usually used on two fibre blended fabrics as it is difficult to control and when used on single fibre fabrics the chemical often eats through the whole fabric. The best results can be seen on a ‘faced’ fabric such as viscose silk or viscose velvet where the devore paste eats through one set of fibres leaving the backing mesh intact.
Once the paste is dry on the fabric, it is then ironed until it starts to look brown or slightly burned. Care needs to be taken at this stage as the paste gives off an acid gas while baking, so it should be done in a well ventilated area. Once baked, the fabric is washed under cold running water and the areas covered by the devore paste fall away leaving the burned in lacy design.
The fabric can be dyed before or after the devore paste is added, and it is possible to get two contrasting colours with careful dye selection.