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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Transfer Dyeing




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!

14 comments:

Judy Alexander said...

Very nice....so many things to try so little time. Love your work!

Dale Anne said...

I swear you are reading my mind Marion! I was just thinking of using some transfer dyes that I had bought last year, even made a note to find out how to successfully use them. I have only begun to read thru your Lutradur CD (since I only have a small piece)....THANK YOU!!!
I will add your CD to my list to read this week!!

Parallax said...

Hm, I've never heard of transfer dyes, something new to look into. Love how that red example came out!

Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

Well, I *think* I have some of the Crayolas.....but I am thinking that the type you use are much more desirable!!! Beautiful work, and the description of how to deal with all the little quirks was excellent!Thanks a bunch from old Hop-A-Long!!! (and indeed today, I am hopping......grrrrr......)

Jane said...

Thanks for the info...
Glad that Old Anne Hop along asked for it. I think she's been hopping down to the studio too much, or maybe her little budgie got loose of it's cage again...

Beautiful work...I love to see what you are working on! Always something interesting!
Lutra

Heather said...

I wonder how long the transfer dyes keep - I haven't used mine for ages. I particularly like the third piece you did. Did I see somewhere that you are bringing the Lovely Lutrador CD out in book format? I don't have a printer so can't download anything, so a book would be most helpful.

TheresaJ said...

Wow, great information. Thanks for sharing. Your paintings are lovely!

Pink said...

Oooh, that sounds like loads of fun! I'll have to seek out these crayolas...

Conrad said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Joannah

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Dogmaw said...

Wow, those are just too yummy!

Lina Burks said...

wow, your work is awesome!! i absolutely love the vibrant colours and the sensitive way you combine them. I am currently doing my foundation diploma and mostly work in photography, printmaking, carving, sculpture, illustration and textiles, so combining photography and textiles is a great idea which i may have to explore. i was just wondering what the medium from ColourCraft is called and what transfer dyes i should use it with as i am thinking of designing some t shirts using transfer dyes, but want to use organic cotton?? Thanks in advance and keep up the great work,

Catalina :)

marion barnett said...

Catalina, the medium is called Transfix. I've never used it, so can't say how effective it is. Have fun trying it out!

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Stitchinscience said...

Thanks for this very clear summary. I came to your blog form a Google search about transfer dyeing, so this is evidently thought by many other people to be a good summary.