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!
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!)
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.
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.)
Turn your photo into a negative. Here are a few ways you can do this:
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
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.
Lay down your photo on your wooden board or transferrable solid surface. I used the backside of an old ceiling tile.
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)
Take the negative off the fabric and set aside.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Set your fabric out in the direct sun for 20-25 minutes.
Bring your fabric inside and voila! You have a photo on your fabric!
Hang dry your fabric dry in a dark area.
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.
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.
I am already contemplating my next project with the light sensitive dye. What should I make?