Sunday, April 12, 2009
I promised my friend Anne, affectionately known as 'Hopalong' as she recovers from an accident, that I would write a bit about transfer dyeing. Transfer dyes are so called because of the way you use them; they have to be painted onto paper, first, and then transferred using the heat of an iron or press onto the cloth. They were designed specifically for dyeing polyesters; that said, they will transfer faintly onto pure cotton, and more strongly onto a polyester/cotton cloth, depending on the amount of polyester in the blend. If, however, you really want to use these dyes on cotton, then you can buy a medium from ColourCraft that allows you to get the full benefit of the brightness of these dyes on a pure cotton cloth.
Transfer dyes come in three forms; one is a crayon, made by Crayola, which is quite difficult to get in the UK, as it has fallen foul of European legislation. The second is in paint form, which you paint straight on to the paper. The third is in powder form, which you mix with hot water to create the dyes, with a thickener to use if you wish, to make them more manageable. Make sure you get the correct thickener; there is a thickener made specifically for these dyes, and the kinds you use for Procions just don't work (trust me, I'm a quilter...).
You can use transfer dyes for all kinds of fibre art processes, providing you paint the design onto paper first, and iron the dry colour onto the cloth. If you are using lutradur or evolon, there's not much of a problem with heat; however, if you are using other polyester cloths, they may be more sensitive to the heat levels required for transfer dyeing. So, it's a good idea to make sample pieces with a new cloth, and to work in a very well ventilated area, following any safety precautions the manufacturers might suggest. You can usually get three prints per sheet from a design, though the print will be less distinct each time; I've been using Colourcraft's transfer paints recently, however, and find that I can get four good prints from them, occasionally five (provided I don't dilute them, of course).
Don't, incidentally, be fooled by the colours as they look on paper. They are often very dull and unimpressive. Once ironed onto cloth, though, they sing, magnificently, bright, strong, clear colours. I'm a fan! There are, of course, full directions for using transfer dyes in the Lovely Lutradur book ( you knew I was going to say that, right?), which you can find here. Today's images are all transfer dyed pieces...enjoy. And try them out, if you haven't already, they're fun to work with!