A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Multiple Experiments with Transperse Dyes

Thanks to Beth, I got a chance to play with transperse dyes today.  I prepared for the day by ordering the PRO Transperse Transfer Printing Kit from Pro Chem.  It had a small amount of blue, yellow, red, and black transperse dyes and the thickening agent to make a print paste.  I also scanned some tree leaves I had pressed, Photoshopped them to just edges, and printed the leaves onto thick art paper.  For the life of me I can't find the jpeg with just the edges--did I not save it???--but here are the scanned and printed leaves before I turned them into outlines.
 Once at Beth's, we mixed the thickener to make the print paste.  We added only half the thickening agent before we both agreed that it was way too thick already and we quit.  Like Beth, I mixed my dyes powders with boiling water.  I chose to mix dark concentrations because I figured I could always water them down.  Next I mixed the dye concentrates with the  print paste.   Then we started with the experiments.

Experiment 1: Transfer printing of painted pictures.
I painted the leaves from the outlines I had printed before.  Here is a picture of them painted on the paper.  

Here is a picture of them on the polyester silk that Beth provided.
 Lessons from Experiment 1:  When comparing my results to Beth's, copy paper and unthickened dyes transferred much better than thickened dyes on art paper.

Experiment 2: Transfer printing using a mask. 
I painted several sheets with stripes of dyes and then used some more of my pressed leaves as masks.  Here are some of the results from that experiment.

Lessons from Experiment 2:
Coolest thing I learned here is that the transfer dye would transfer to the mask. That meant I could turn the mask over and print directly from it.

Experiment 3:  Transfer printing from thermofax
At this point I had left over thickened dye and Beth had some lonely thermofax screens.  I put them together and printed on paper.  Here are the results when printed onto the fabric.

Lessons learned from Experiment 3:
I don't know if I would have better success with a different type of silk screen or if I had screened onto copy paper but these did not transfer well and only transferred once--see the very faint leaves on the second picture?  That was my second attempt to print.  Quite unsatisfactory.

Experiment 4: Going wild now
Okay, at this point I was having tons of fun layering the prints.  Because they are translucent and because I could print directly from the masks, I was just making  multiple layers of the same masks/transfer papers in multiple ways. So Beth painted a motif and I started transferring the motif across a width of fabric.  Here are pictures of the progress. (Sorry about the shine--wasn't there in person)

Overall Lessons Learned
1)  By the time I finished playing today, I decided that I do have a few more experiments that I want to try.  It is kinda fun.

2) There are effects you can get using the transperse dyes that you could not get from paints or direct computer printing on the fabric.

Overall, I am still on the fence for this technique.  One of the pieces I made today will become a wall hanging.  We'll see how the quilting goes to see if I am interested in working with polyester in the future. At this point  I have used cotton/silk/linen fabric for so long that I am not sure why I would want to use polyester fabric and if I don't use polyester fabric then this technique is pointless.

I will let  you know about the quilting and any future experiments.


  1. I love the way you presented your experiments is such an organized way. Plus that last piece was brilliant.

  2. You are just teasing me so much on getting out my dyes again!!! BUT I have to finish the quilt for my grand daughters Christmas present!!!! January...look out!!

  3. Thanks for such a comprehensive post! I wanted to try printing with thickend paste but hadn't gotten around to it, so I'm glad to see your results.

    Like you, I'm used to working with cotton/silk so I wasn't sure this technique would be useful, but I have seen some results from other people (and now, gotten some results myself) that I couldn't get otherwise, so when there is a particular look I'm going for, I'll continue to use this technique.


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