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Make It: DIY Photographic Pillow With Light-Sensitive Dye (on the Cheap!)

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Who doesn't love a colorful pillow? Moreover, who doesn't love a bold, graphic colorful pillow with a personal touch? This simple technique allows you to print any image of your choosing onto fabric, then sew it up for a totally custom look. Right? Right. Let's make one!

 

MATERIALS

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Here is what you need:

  • 1/2 yard white or natural colored duck canvas fabric. Painters drop cloth could work as well.
  • Jacquard Solar Fast Light Sensitive Dye or Lumi Inkodye. (Both will work well, I chose the Solar Fast because it was cheaper)
  • Photograph printed on 11.5 X 17 transparency. You need two of the same print. (more on this below)
  • Straight pins
  • Glass from a large picture frame 
  • Foam brush or foam roller
  • 1/2 cup or water 
  • bowl  for mixing
  • Solid surface slightly bigger than your fabric, such as a piece of plywood. This is key for quickly transferring your work from inside to outside. You will want to do all the painting work on this surface.

The key to this project is light-sensitive dye. There are many choices of color in this product, so go wild! 

I was excited to do this project, butthe more I read up on how to do it, the more expensive it got. Not only did I have to buy the dye, it looked like I needed to by the specific film, and the SolarFast wash for washing your dyed print. Don't get me wrong; I am sure all of these things are great products but a little pricey for just getting started. I decided to be a little bit rebellious to see if I could use light sensitive dye without all the accessories.  (Hint: it worked!)

 

Step

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Take or find a photograph. The best photographs are going to be ones that are simple with lots of contrasts. You don't want a busy photo. I found my photo Gratisography, a site with free photos with no copyright restrictions. You want to take or use a photo that is simple with distinct areas of contrast. I used these tips for my guide.

Step

Turn your photo to black and white. You can do this on your phone or any basic photo editing application or website such as iPhoto or Canva.com. (My photo was already black and white, so I hopped right along.)

Step

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Turn your photo into a negative. Here are a few ways you can do this:

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

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Photoshop: Upload your photo. On the top toolbar select Image, then select Adjustment, and then select Invert. Save to your computer. If you have another type of editing software just Google how to "invert a photo" or "create a negative" with that software and I am positive there will be instructions out there.

Phone: Download the free app Negative Me Free and follow the instructions.

Website: Lumi Inkodye has created an app for you to create negatives. Its free to use just upload your picture and follow the instructions. app.inkodye.com

Step

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Print your photo on 11.5 X 17 transparency paper. Instead of buying a bunch of transparency paper I don't need I took mine to a Office Max and spent $2 to print the photo. You need two prints. This is important because you will need both to create the most contrast.

Step

Lay down your photo on your wooden board or transferrable solid surface. I used the backside of an old ceiling tile.

Step

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Prep your fabric. I washed and ironed my fabric first. Then, I taped around my negative to prep for painting. (You do not have to tape. I just wanted the picture to be framed on my pillow)

Step

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Take the negative off the fabric and set aside.

Important: Due to the light sensitive nature of the dye, the next steps need to be done quickly. Make sure these steps are done in low light room with no direct sunlight.

Step

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Pour 1/2 a cup of a water into a bowl and pour about a tablespoon of dye into the bowl. Stir up the mixture with your paint brush.

Step

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Paint your fabric with the mixture. Do this quickly and make sure you cover the entire surface of the fabric well. It should be saturated with the dye in the area of the picture so the details will show up.

Step

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Layer both negatives on top of each other and place on top of your fabric. Don't skip the step of layering two negatives. It will work with one but there won't be much contrast in the picture.

Step

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Secure the negatives to the fabric. I did this with push pins. You can also do this with the glass from a photo frame. I had one ready but I didn't use it. I would have used the glass it was a windy day. Since it was not the pins worked fine.

Step

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Set your fabric out in the direct sun for 20-25 minutes.

Step

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Bring your fabric inside and voila!  You have a photo on your fabric!

Step

Hang dry your fabric dry in a dark area.

Step

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Wash your fabric by itself on a delicate cycle. I was really afraid of this step. I did not purchase the SolarWash. I simply used a tablespoon of detergent and crossed my fingers. It came out perfect.  No bleeding or running. The light sensitive dye is still activated until you wash it; washing the print is what stops the dye and makes it permanent. When making my pillow, I needed to iron the fabric, and that didn't present any problems either. The dye is on there for good.

Step

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

Make your pillow. I grabbed some scrap fabric and used this tutorial for making my pillow and used this tutorial for adding piping around the pillow.

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

I love the way it turned out. My husband and I met working at a summer camp. My son recently went to that summer camp and loved it. The three canoes are a nice little reference to this part of my family's story.

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

 

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye

 

Make It- DIY Pillow with light Sensitive Dye
Pin It and Share It: DIY pillow with light sensitive dye

 

I am already contemplating my next project with the light sensitive dye. What should I make?

I loved reading this post about all fun ways to decorate Easter eggs, and I am wondering I can use the light sensitive dye to decorate my Easter Eggs.

 

 

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Jennifer Farley on Mar 28, 2017:

@ladybug It is really fun to do and its a project I will do again! Please do let us know how it turns out.


Ladybug on Mar 28, 2017:

This looks and seems sooooooo awesome to do! I travel often and couldn't think of a way to showcase (for myself) or have memories besides pictures!!!!!!! I'll definitely let you know how it turned out!


Jennifer Farley on Mar 23, 2017:

@photobug thanks for the tips!


photobug on Mar 21, 2017:

I suggest taping the two negatives together with clear (scotch) tape before you start. Use a lightbox if you can to line up the dot pattern precisely; if they are just a little bit off, you can get a moire pattern. Also, its a good idea to test the dye and exposure timing on some fabric scraps on the same day before you do an important fabric piece (like if you are using a completed pillow form or something hard to replace). Finally, the dye is sensitive to UV light specifically. So the key for coating the fabric is to avoid UV light, which is most commonly natural light from windows, etc. Florescent light is safer than incandescent if you have a choice.


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