This weeks featured product – Using Transfer Artist Paper (TAP)

14 03 2015

I love TAP and use it pretty much every day.

Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) is photo transfer tool. It gives you a lot of flexibility because it can be transferred onto almost any surface and can be added at any stage of a design process. Fabric you print onto will always need to be stitched into the project, but TAP can be applied over layers at the beginning, middle or end of a project. It can be applied to fabric, paper, card, leather, tiles, wood and even glass. TAP is paper sheets coated in a polymer which catches and then binds colour to objects. You can print onto it with an ink jet printer or draw, stamp, stencil – basically add colour in any way you want.

Transfering images with TAP is not hard and the quality of the image you can get can be crisper than any other transfer process, but there are a couple of hints that will help you do this. Here they are:

  1.  Use a high quality, large image. What you start with is what you get. If your image is not a high resolution and is pixelated or will become so if enlarged, then it won’t improve in the transfer process. You can increase the dots per inch and the colour saturation in most picture software.
  2.  Reverse your images. This is essential with people you know, words and phrases and landmarks that are identifiable.  If you create all your images, including any text as a picture, it is very easy to reverse.
  3.  Print onto the white side. This is the right side. When ironing onto your fabric, the right side (white) goes face down onto the surface you are transferring it onto.
  4.  The TAP is not A4 in size. Open up a Word document and change the Page Layout to Letter. Reduce the margins as much as you can.
  5.  When you iron the TAP, use a hot dry iron. You are melting the polymers onto your fabric, so the heat must be sufficient to melt all of the polymer evenly across the whole piece.
  6.  Remove the backing paper immediately. Do not allow it to cool down or your image will be damaged when you pull the backing paper away.
  7.  MOST CRITICALLY – if, as you pull the backing paper off, there is grabbing or resistance – STOP. Replace the backing paper and iron again. The backing paper should slip straight off without any grab. Pulling when there is resistance will cause you to lose or damage some of your image.
  8.  The surface that you apply the TAP too will determine the finish. TAP is semi transparent, so you will see colour, texture and patterns behind the image. This can be a powerful design tool, but make an informed decision about the finish you are after. See images below.
  9.  A textured or uneven surface will result in a textured or uneven transfer. See the image of the TAP on Crash for an example.
  10.  The finer the fabric, the harder it is to transfer onto. If in doubt, keep ironing. It will be okay.

Look at some comparisons on using it. This first image is the original photo printed on white card.

Original Photo med

I then printed multiple copies of the photo onto the TAP ready to transfer onto different surfaces.

Transfer images onto TAP med

As the TAP is semi transparent, each surface that the image is printed onto looks different.  When you know what the TAP is going to do on various surfaces, you can manipulate it to suit the finished effect you want for you project.

Different surfaces will get a different effect med

The crispest and clearest image is one transfered onto a white, high thread count cotton fabricTAP on cotton homespun med

These next two are on a light coloured patterned cotton and a coloured (green) cotton.  You can see that the colour and texture show through influencing the image.

TAP on Patterned fabric med         TAP on Coloured Fabric med

Extending the concept of texture, here is one on Bamboo Felt.  You get the crispness of the white showing through, but the subtle texture of the bamboo behind the image.
TAP on Bamboo Rayon Felt med

The next transfer is on heavy weight Lutradur.  Again, the texture influences the image. Next to it is a light weight Lutradur in Gold.  Colour and texture influence the image significantly here.

TAP on heavy lutradur med   TAP on Gold Lutradur med

When you iron the TAP onto an uneven surface, the transfer will only occur on the places where the top of the surface comes in contact with the TAP.  Imagine photos on lace or white cord etc.  This next image is on Lutradur Crash (now discontinued, sadly)

TAP on textured Lutradur Crash med

The final image I am going to show you today is the picture ironed onto a hand dyed silk georgette.  This effect is lovely and has a lot of potential to explore.

TAP on Silk Georgette med

So, dive in and play.  The potential is unlimited.



tremendous texture from tyvek

8 02 2015

Tyvek can look really dull and boring – no colour or texture, but this week’s product is worth having a play with.  Tyvek is a synthetic sheet, water resistant, it can also be recycled. Tyvek comes in three weights: 54gsm, 75gsm and 105gsm. I get the sheets cut into A4 size pieces, but it can come in larger pieces or even on a roll if you need that much.

Tyvek can be found in a lot of different forms.  It is most commonly found in the US as free USPS envelopes, but we don’t have that luxury here in Australia.  It is a man made paper type of medium and is now most commonly used for archival purposes.  Water proof, no acid, smooth surfaced, it is a great storage paper when slipped between items being stored.  The other place you find it is in hardware stores in the form of protective clothing (a great way to start a wearable art piece by the way).  In earlier times, you would readily find tyvek used as wall insulation.  You do not want to use industrial tyvek in your craft as it will probably have a lot of other, nasty additives which you particularly do not want to heat and therefore release into the air.

Using it is supper cool.  Tyvek bubbles and warps with heat. It also bonds to itself and other materials when heated. Yet it remains soft and pliable and can be hand or machine stitched or embellished.

To use, place the Tyvek between two sheets of baking paper or an appliqué mat. Using an iron on the cotton setting gently iron until the Tyvek starts to change shape. You can keep going until it bubbles and separates, or use it with limited warping. Painting the Tyvek on one or both sides not only creates interest, but helps with the warping process. You can use any paints. They will behave slightly differently, but it is fun to experiment. I particularly like the effect of Lumiere paint on melted Tyvek.  When you put a surface of paint onto the tyvek, it acts as a bit of a resist, slowing down the heat activated reaction.  This will often give you more time and, dare I say it, more control.

Both sides of the Tyvek will look different after being heated. You may like to heat some of the sheet on one side and flip it over to heat other areas. That will create an interesting combination of hills and valleys. I have also had a lot of success using a heat gun on Tyvek.

Some ideas for its use include:

  • Cut out shapes and heat or use scissors to create slashes or nicks in the paper before heating.
  • Paint and then lightly apply Shiva stiks or other highlights.
  • Stamp on the surface.
  • Hand or machine stitch patterns or designs on the Tyvek and then heat.       The stitching will slow the warping in some areas and create interesting designs.
  • Sprinkle or stamp embossing powder onto the surface – the heat will warp the Tyvek and activate the embossing powder.
  • Lay Hot Fix Angelina on one side of painted Tyvek. Heat. The Angelina will melt into the Tyvek but will also limit the warping where the Angelina is.       Try this with non hot fix too.
  • Cut strips of painted Tyvek, roll onto a skewer and heat with an iron or heat gun. The rolls will bond to become chunky beads.
  • Cut Tyvek shapes and apply to a background of Tyvek. Heat to bond.

As always, play experiment and wonder ‘what if…’ and you will get some great results.

Tyvek Project – A Swirl of Pearls

swirl of pearls


Silk velvet (about a 10inch square)

Backing material and wadding

Hot Fix Angelina Fibre

Acrylic Paints – I used Lumiere


Small number of Pearl beads

Appliqué Mat or Baking paper


Thread, Sewing Machine

Foam Brush for paint


Sandwich the backing fabric, wadding and velvet, pin to hold together and stitch around the sides to baste.

  1. Cut small pieces of Tyvek. Start with pieces about 10 by 15 cms.
  2. Paint both sides of the Tyvek with the acrylic paint and leave to dry.
  3. Lay a thin wispy layer of the Hot Fix Angelina on to one half of the appliqué mat. Cover with the remaining mat and iron to bond the Angelina together making a cob web effect. Set aside.
  4. When the paint on the Tyvek is dry, place between folded appliqué mat.
  5. Scatter some Angelina fibre over one side of the Tyvek and iron with a warm to hot iron. Hover the iron over certain areas to cause puckering and bubbling. Flip the Tyvek and do both sides until you are happy with the effect.
  6. Lay the Angelina web on to the velvet ‘sandwich’ and stitch to hold in place.
  7. Pin the Tyvek in place and stitch in place.
  8. Scatter pearl beads and hand stitch into place.
  9. Quilt and edge to create interest and texture.



Using Multipurpose Cloth

1 02 2015

Last week I did not post a blog, not because it was the long weekend, well partly because of that.  We spent the weekend building a fence and I did not have the capacity to think, or move nor the time, so took the weekend off.

This week’s featured product is made by Roc-Lon and was originally designed as a black out curtain lining, but it is one of the most fabulous and versatile surfaces to work on. If you want to use it to line your curtains, it blocks light, acts as an insulation for heat/cold and noise. Those exact characteristics are what make it so versatile.

Multipurpose Cloth is 30% Cotton and 70% Polyester. As such, it can be dyed with transfer dyes and stained with Procion dyes (colour will only be light, soft and drifty due to high Poly content). The surface is mildly suede like and it takes all sorts of paints and colour products really well. The first thing you can do with it is apply paint. The cloth is quite solid and heavy but maintains a soft drape. This means that you can use this to add body but still be malleable and can be shaped. It is completely washable, so depending on what you are making select a paint with sufficient colourfastness if it is likely to be washed. The cloth takes Lumiere Paint like it was made for it.

Most importantly, the Multipurpose Cloth can be cut with scissors or a rotary cutter and can be sewn on the sewing machine or hand embroidered. Due to the polyester content, the cloth will not fray, so you can be a bit lazy on how you finish the items you make with it. It makes great baby shoes and bags, sturdy cloth dolls and baby toys. It can be stitched into quilts or garments. Imagine a painted, embroidered and embellished vest front for example.

So, paint, stencil, stamp, spray and sponge layers of colour over the surface with pretty much any paints and colour products. You can glue fabric or paper elements directly on the surface, foil or apply embossing powder.

Once decorated (or not), the cloth can be stitched into a range of different items. As the cloth is water resistant, it is great for household items such as placemats, bowls, wine and lunch box covers, picnic wear, peg holders and more.

The cloth is heat tolerant, so you can add image transfers, embossing powder, foils, iron on decals and more. It also means that the cloth can be used for lampshades and other functions were indirect or diffused heat will be present. Most importantly it can be ironed.

Although the cloth can be the base fabric for pretty much anything, my favourite uses for it are dimensional embellishments. You can cut the cloth with any of the die cutting machines, so can make anything from very precise and detailed appliqué elements to dimensional stars, flowers, hearts etc to stich or glue onto a project. Lots of brightly painted stars would make a great baby mobile.

For a huge range of very quick and easy projects, go to the Roc-Lon website listed below.

I am carrying the cloth in the 54 inch width, so if you want metreage you can order it. Have fun with this awesome surface.

Here are some pictures of me colouring it and a bag I made from the painted fabric

Painted with Lemon and Hot Fuchsia Dye na Flow

Painted with Lemon and Hot Fuchsia Dye na Flow

Pearlescent Magenta and Metallic Gold Lumiere and Pink and Orange Liquitex Paint sponged on all over the surface

Pearlescent Magenta and Metallic Gold Lumiere and Pink and Orange Liquitex Paint sponged on all over the surface

Multipurpose Cloth painted with Pearlescent Purple and Pearlescent Turquoise Lumiere Paint with Gold Embossing powder melted onto the painted surface.

Multipurpose Cloth painted with Pearlescent Purple and Pearlescent Turquoise Lumiere Paint with Gold Embossing powder melted onto the painted surface.

AND finally the bag I made from it all.  As this is all waterproof, I can use this for a towel and swimmers or a great nappy bag.  I have four pockets on the outside.  Although this is not lined, I could easily have lined it and perhaps made the bag reversible.  In a different shape, it could be a lunch bag or so much more.  Easily washed, Multipurpose Cloth is extremely versatile.


Alter Fabric with Transparent Paints

18 01 2015

Creating or altering fabric with paint allows you to tailor your feature fabrics or backgrounds to exactly what you want for your project. It is also incredibly quick, easy and fun.

Paints come in many forms. Different brands will be described and marketed in different ways and it can be confusing to know which product is optimal for which technique. The reality is that most of them are interchangeable and there is no single product that has a single use. What can be the greatest separation between types of paints is viscosity and transparency. Some paints, like Lumiere, Golden and Liquitex are thick and generally opaque. Some paints like Dye Na Flow and Pebeo Seteo Transparent are very liquid or runny and generally more transparent. It is these more liquid paints I want to show you this week.

I use Dye Na Flow.  Of all the fabric paints and inks I have used, I find this paint effects the hand of the fabric the least.  It is the closest surface to a dye I have found in a paint.  Paint does not become part of the fibre like dye does, so will always sit on the surface in some way.  Fabric paint is generally a form of acrylic paint, made up of the pigment (colour) and a bonding agent/carrier.  Dye Na Flow are very saturated in pigment and can easily be diluted with water to make softer colours and a softer hand.

Transparent Paints will go on any surface, but are best on fabrics. As they have a light hand, these paints are terrific on silks and other sheer fabrics as well as all natural and most synthetic fabrics.

Transparent paints can be painted, sponged and stenciled directly onto the fabric like any paint.  However transparent paints make fabulous watercolour, washed backgrounds, can be altered with salt or alcohol solution and can sun print.  Because these paints are transparent, they can be seen through so you can use the paint to change the colour of something but keep the pattern or detail.

Here is an example.

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Any transparent paint can be used for sun printing.  When you use paint like Dye Na Flow, it is richly saturated but very fluid.  To sun print with these paints, you dilute them with water, paint the diluted paint onto a wet surface and then lay items on the wet paint to create patterns.  The faster the paint can dry, the crisper the image will be, so this works best on a hot sunny day, but the truth is sun printing can occur on rainy overcast days too.  The piece photographed below was made with Dye Na Flow paint, salt and a plastic mask in the shape of a tree.


Here are instructions on this technique and a colour wash effect:  sun salt and screens

Dye Na Flow comes in 30 colours, all of which are able to be mixed to make new colours.

dye na flow colour chart

you can find them on my website here:

Here is an example of a project where I painted the background with Dye Na Flow.

from this                      bird on the wire 1

to this                           bird on the wire 3

Give these paints a go.  They are exceptionally versatile and easy to use.

Working with Prismacolor Premier Pencils

11 01 2015

Pencils vary dramatically in quality and consequentially price.  In loose terms, pencil quality is determined by three key components:  the quality and intensity of the pigment; the nature of the binder the pigment is mixed into; and the quality of the wood that encases it all.  How often have you had a packet of pencils where the wood splits and breaks everytime you try and sharpen them, or the inside is so brittle that once knocked or dropped the colour is broken into tiny pieces and you can’t use them.  These and other problems are a product of the materials used to make the pencil.

Often when we talk about Prismacolor pencils, it is the Premier pencils that we mean.  Prismacolor make many different colour products, but the best, artist quality, wax based pencils are the Premiers.  These pencils now come in 150 colours, including 36 grey shades.  There is no colour you can’t create with these pencils.  Here is a colour chart.


You can get these all as individual pencils, in packs of 12 through to all 150.  I personally always want them all, but I might just be greedy.  The ones in the boxes plus the three Neons are the newest colours.

Prismacolor pencils are fantastic artist quality pencils.  They are rich, vibrant colours as they are strongly pigmented.  They are a waxed based pencil, not watercolour, so they will not shift easily with water and can be blended with a brush, sponge or your finger.  When using them, I tend to start with a light layer of colour and build the layers up.   Although designed for artists drawing on paper, many textile artists are using these with stitcheries, quilts and garments.

This video is a joint activity between Dick Blick and the Prismacolour educators.  This video only considers their use on paper.  It is a good explanation of the pencils.

Although not designed for fabric the pencils have been used by doll makers and embroiderers for decades. Fabric always has ‘tooth’ and working the same area over again does not take that away.  As the carrier of the pigment is wax based, the colour can be ‘melted’ into the fabric for permanency.  To heat set these, place the fabric between some absorbent paper and iron.  Please test this on your fabric as different fabrics will behave differently.   If you are concerned about washability, pretreat your fabric with a diluted textile medium.  To do this, mix one part textile medium in three to five parts water and paint this solution onto your fabric.  Allow to dry and then colour over the surface.  This will act as a binding agent for your pencil.

An alternative approach can be found here:  I found Sandra’s use of flowable extender interesting and I really like how she adds life to her applique with the pencils.

An Australian textile artist who has used the Prismacolor pencils in many of her award winning quilts is Jocelyne Leath.  You can see her website here:

These pencils will go on pretty much any surface.  I have an artist who draws on wood using Prismacolor.  They are great on Kraft tex, tyvek and Lutradur too.  With the addition of some fixatives, the pencils can be used on non absorbent, smooth surfaces too.  Here is a post about someone using them on metal.  Just amazing.

You can find the pencil sets on my website here: