Make photographic fabric prints with Inkodye | How About Orange

June 12, 2013

Make photographic fabric prints with Inkodye

I played around some more with Inkodye, the permanent, water-based dye that develops its color in sunlight. After making easy shadow prints using safety pins and leaves, prints using cardboard cutouts, and a design with a freezer paper stencil, I tried working with a photo negative that I printed at home.

For this experiment, I did a Google image search and set the filters to display large black-and-white photographs. I found an image online that I liked: this desktop wallpaper with a 1962 Ford Thunderbird admired by elegant ladies. "Betty, is that your new car?" "Yes, Shirley. Isn't it mahvelous? Good thing I have a massive driveway so I'll never need to parallel pahk this boat."

I inverted the image in Photoshop to make it a negative and printed it on some old 3M CG3460 inkjet transparency film I found in my closet.

Even if you don't have Photoshop, you can turn any photo of your own into a negative. Bold photos with lots of contrast will work best.

Go to the online image editor Pixlr. Choose "Open image from computer" to upload your photo. From the top menu, choose "Adjustment">"Desaturate" to make the image black and white. Then select "Adjustment">"Invert" to create a negative image. You can also play with brightness, contrast, or levels to get dark blacks and bright whites for good printing. Finally, choose "File">"Save."

Then print the negative onto printable transparency film. Order some from Amazon or the Lumi website. Follow the directions on the package for feeding the sheets through your printer.

If you need larger negatives, try splitting your image in half, printing on two sheets, and taping them together.

Or if printing your own negatives sounds like a pain, you can download the Lumi iPhone app to order custom negatives delivered to your doorstep.

After printing out the negative, I got the fabric ready. A piece of cardboard wrapped with a plastic trash bag makes a great waterproof work surface. I taped my piece of cotton canvas to the board to hold it in place while brushing on dye.

Then I poured a little Inkodye into a cup and brushed it on with a foam brush. Doing this in a room with subdued lighting is important— you don't want the dye to start changing color before you're ready! Try to get an even layer of dye on the fabric. The cloth doesn't need to be soaking wet; just thoroughly coated.

Mix Inkodye with water in a 1:1 ratio to stretch it farther; you'll get the same vibrant color. Or add even more water to get lighter colors. Mix colors to create new hues if you want.

I used a paper towel to blot off all the excess dye I could remove. Too much moisture can cause condensation on the negative, and this can mess up your print.

Then I laid the negative on top of the fabric, printed side up so the ink wouldn't get wet and smear. In case there was a slight breeze outside, I stuck on a piece of tape to secure the negative so it wouldn't blow away. Add more tape if needed, but I wouldn't recommend taping down all the edges or you'll trap more water inside, increasing condensation.

Then I carried the board outside into direct sunshine. See the little animation I made? That's what it looks like as the dye starts to change color from nearly clear to purplish indigo, and eventually to blue. Condensation started to appear which worried me; I've had prints ruined by that before, but this one turned out okay.

After 10 minutes of exposure, I took the board back indoors to a dim room and removed the negative.

Then I immediately washed the fabric with laundry detergent in hot water. The goal is to remove the undeveloped dye from the light areas before it turns color. Scrub really thoroughly or put your print right into the washing machine. The Inkodye company recommends washing it twice. The dye is permanent, so don't worry that you'll wash off the blue areas. They're there to stay, so you can dye clothing and bags and wash them regularly going forward.

Here's the final print.


I decided these ladies needed some friends, so I chose this McCall's pattern fabric for a lining and sewed this print into a zippered pouch.

You could make prints of your kids, your house, your Prius, or your Persian kitty. Print on aprons, t-shirts, hoodies, or pillows. Good times!

47 comments:

Linda Bilsborrow said...

Brilliant tutorial, thanks.

Rachael Jess said...

I love it

itwasheridea said...

AMAZING! Such helpful links too, thanks so much for posting!

LadyBird said...

Such a great idea! Looks lovely. I absolutely love it :)

Casey said...

I love this! One more reason to get my hands on some inkodye!

Four dogs and one quilter said...

Fantastic! IF the sun ever shines again here in Oregon, I will have to give this a try.

kali said...

Love this! Curious, what printer do you use? Mine doesn't print on transparency and I'd like to get a new printer sometime soon. Thanks!

Sara Tall said...

Cool! I love your Inkodye posts. I'll put it on the list of things to try.

Holli said...

I purchased some Inkodye based on your last post about it, but this is even more exciting! I must actually open the bottles and give it a try! Thanks for the inspiration and great teaching!

Grandma G said...

Wow, that's really great! I loved the fact that you sewed, too! :)

Mum

Jessica Jones said...

Yeah, it's a miracle.

liza jane said...

Awesome!

Lichen Frank said...

I forgot about this technique, nice to see it all the way executed.

texmex said...

Thanks a lot for the tuto it looks really impressive. I ordered online on lumi.co and will get it all the way in France to try this specific trick. I love blue and this pouch looks terrific.

PanicaLab said...

Fantastic tutorial! Thank you for sharing!

Mała rzecz a cieszy said...

Hello, your blog is very interesting, I'll observe. Greetings form Poland. Wellcome to me :)

Anonymous said...

I had a car just like that when I was 17. I was a tank! I loved it. I gave it up for an orange Gremlin. What was I thinking?
Great tutorial!!!

Il Gufo Creativo said...

Wow!
Great!
Thank you!

Mary

Patricia Thomazo said...

looks nice ! what's the difference with a transfert ?

Jessica Jones said...

Anonymous, you were thinking orange is an irresistible color. No one can blame you for that.

Patricia, I'm not sure I follow your question. Can you reword it?

TJ said...

I already thought this stuff was amazing but now even more so! It looks fantastic.

Jessica Jones said...

Kali, I have a reeeeally old HP 2210. Before you get a new printer, are you sure you used transparencies designed for ink jet printers, if that's what yours is? One side of the transparency sheet should be rougher so the ink will stick. Printing on the smooth side I'm sure won't work. Just double checking to make sure it went into your printer with the right side down! Or if you have a laser printer, I think you can buy transparencies for that kind, too.

Emily B said...

So cool! Would it work with fabric paint?

Jessica Jones said...

Emily, nope, fabric paint is not designed to change color when exposed to light. This dye is photo-sensitive, and that's why the shaded parts of the design stay light and the exposed parts change color.

Anonymous said...

you are just SOOOO crafty!

Lilian said...

That is very cool and creative!

Alba
http://macondoartisans.com/

Anonymous said...

Where can I buy inkodye in the uk?

Jessica said...

I love this tutorial so much. It'd be great to give it a go - we just have to get a sunny day first!

Prairie dahl said...

OMG I love this!!!! Thank you so much for the inspiration. Can't wait to try it.

Jenn said...

I want it!

Kateri said...

Wow, sounds like a really nice project to try! I love also your choice of fabric and the contrasting zipper. Congratulation!

Patricia Thomazo said...

yes, what is the difference with an t-shit transfer ? you know the transfer sheet that you put in your printer and you get on your textil with an iron.

Jessica Jones said...

Oh, I see. In my experience, iron-on transfers leave the fabric sort of shiny in the non-printed areas because they apply a layer of film-like stuff to the fabric. And the prints end up a little stiffer, and after many washings the print starts to degrade and peel off a bit.

Inkodye soaks into the fabric and colors the fibers instead of creating a film layer on top. The fabric stays soft and natural feeling.

Here's something fun--check out the Inkodye founder's blog where she creates a different dyed t-shirt every day!

Jen @ The Make Box said...

I've just added inkodye to my shopping list as I want to immortalise my cat Monty on a tshirt for my fella. Such a neat way of creating something personalised. Thanks for bringing it to my attention x

Nicole Underwood said...

That is SO cool!

Paola said...

Wow! So smart! I have an old and very classic photo, with my grands! Imagine if I do your project for a family present! :) I want to start! I will let you know how it works.

Elisabeth said...

I just discovered your blog (or I might say rediscovered because I found a saved bookmark to one of your previous blog posts about paper bows on my phone), and you are definitely going into my list of blogs I follow on Bloglovin! This post is fabulous, thanks for sharing! Loved it :D

Patricia Thomazo said...

ho... I see the diference now ! thanks for theses additionnal informations :-)

Jessica Jones said...

Thanks, Elisabeth!

LimeRiot said...

This is brilliant! I bought some inkodye last year after seeing some of your tutorials. I always wanted to try a photographic print like this. Your instructions are really helpful. I'm going to give it a go this summer!

Reese Carrozzini said...

What a fantastic tutorial! Very detailed.

www.reesecarrozzini.com

Anonymous said...

What brand of transparency film did you use?

Jessica Jones said...

I used some old 3M CG3460 inkjet transparency film I found in my closet. I don't even know where the box came from, but it looks kinda 80s.

Anonymous said...

Hi this is so amazing and I can't wait too try it, could you by any chance post a tutorial on how to make the bag at the end? X

Jessica Jones said...

Hi! There are zillions of tutorials online for these. Try googling "zippered pouch tutorial." Here's one.

Obleblop Blinkerslop said...

Hi Jessica

Nice print. I've spent the day scouring the internet for information on how to make a decent digital negative. There are whole forums and pages about this very subject and most of them are pretty complex. You seem to have figured this out, though, without any of the complication others are encountering. From what I understand, the problem is that the ink output of the printer is not heavy (saturated) enough due to color management profiles sent from Photoshop and other such programs. I've tried all day to get a decent print and all I get are hazy see-through images that wouldn't block the UV in any decent manner and would probably just make a dark mess with inkodye.

Would you mind sharing what software you printed from? I don't think it's necessarily what you used to edit with - your secret is probably stemming from the software that you used to send the print profile to the printer...or the printer itself.

I see you've already listed the printer. Maybe one of these 2 ingredients has bi-passed the color management issue. Whatever the case, it looks like your negatives are nice and rich. I have some of these inks, I can't wait to try them. Now if I can just figure out how you made your negatives...

Regards,
*J

Jessica Jones said...

I used photoshop. I didn't get perfect black coverage; the fabric turned faintly blue in the areas that I would have liked a little paler, but it wasn't too bad.

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