One of the things that my money can't buy is fine super hero/favorite character underwear (or any merch really) for ladies. Every kind of boxers seems to be available, and at times I have tried buying some "guys" size underwear with a fav character, only to find no room for my butt.
Thus, I decided to kill two birds with one stone, filling in the voids of character themed girl sized merch and Steven Universe merch by making a lumi inkodye instructable for Garnet undies!
This instructable will walk through both my positive and negative results. Lumi inkodye is new, and it seems to be "keep trying stuff until it works".
Step 1: Materials
I have taken every art class, including print making and photography, so I might have taken the details kind of far, but this instructable should help you make any lumi inkodye print. Materials that I used for added details that aren't reallllly necessary are organized as such:
-UV light source (e.g. the sun or UV light bulb)
-paper towels and water
-old credit card/membership card or paintbrush
-iron and ironing board (for cloth)
-natural material item to be dyed (e.g. cloth, clothing, wood)
-glitter, star shaped
-photoshop or similar image editing program
-lumi resist fluid
Step 2: Choose Your Image!
The first step is to decide what you are trying to print, I chose Garnet from the opening scene of Steven's Universe. Although it isn't obvious (which is the point), I spent hours photoshopping the image to be better suited for monochromatic printing.
Pumping up the contrast so that there are both completely black and completely white areas so I can be sure to get the full range of contrast of the dye. I then went back and shifted certain colors lighter or darker than those neighboring it. I also expanded the background so that there wouldn't be any abrupt edges.
I finally mirrored the image so that it could be placed toner side down on the fabric and still read correctly, and finally inverted it, so that it would be a negative. I.e. the white areas will get the most light and make the ink the darkest, and the black areas will get the least light and make the ink the lightest.
Step 3: Choose Your Color Dye!
I tried all the dyes (except magenta) at this point. I have learned that "shelf life" and "store in cool dry place" are serious business for inkodyes. (And/or there is something funny about the reaction to the dyes with certain light sources, still trying to figure out this issue exactly.)
I have a sepia, a copper, a navy, a black and a plum that all come out nearly the identical brown. I have a red that can't get past magenta and a blue which can only get to robin's egg blue.
For this project I chose to mix the red and plum to get a darker magenta and pinker plum than I was able to get with either.
For the american apparel underwear, I used about (seriously guessing) 1.5 or 2 tbsp red and 30 drops of plum.
For the victoria's secret pair, I used about 2 parts red to 1 part plum.
Step 4: Choose Your Fabric (or Any Natural Material)!
Lumi supposedly works best on natural fibers, such as:
I used swatches of white cotton muslin for my test pieces.
This can be bought most cheaply online probably? But I bought mine from the Jo-Ann remnant section, pieces under 2 yards, I think are marked at least half off, and that is plenty for the ~4"x6" test pieces I did. (I also scored some fine looking linen!)
For this project I first used a pair of cotton underwear for american apparel. (It turned out to be too think and too scrunchy.)
It is IMPORTANT that you check the label. I found a bunch of sneaky garments that were half cotton and half polyester and what not.
I then found better luck with a victoria's secret pair. These are made of thinner fabric and aren't cinched anywhere even when you don't stretch them out.
Step 5: Test Your Materials!
As I mentioned earlier, these dyes can go bad, so definitely check out how these dyes develop before lathering them on some sweet $48 organic cotton whatever.
Test your negative! I went through several interations of the image I wanted to transfer as I made areas darker or lighter.
Test yourself! My technique improved greatly as I practice, I got rid of air bubbles, paint brush hairs, and under exposed images with practice.
Step 6: Work Area
My work area is a large box with a piece of acrylic sheet across to make it flat, a sheet of acetate across that for easy clean up, and a bed side table with a UV/black light flood bulb.
I also keep a timer nearby (in this case my cellphone), to keep track of how long an image has been exposing and so I can pause it and take pictures at various points with a time reference in the image itself (rather that writing notes to myself, because they get lost/already got lost).
Step 7: Applying Ink to a Test Swatch
::Working on top of acetate::
Prepare some fabric for a test swatch by running it through the washer and dryer, cutting it down to size, and ironing it. In the first image you can see what a good ironed swatch looks like, and what bad ones look like.
Applying ink is tricky: too much and you get uneven exposure, too little and you get uneven coloring.
I tried using a cheap paint brush, the result was brush bristles all over my neatly painted fabric.
Next I tried a foam brush, the result was most of the ink was sucked up and lost to the foam and I couldn't tell how much ink I had applied.
I got into directly pouring the (well shaken) dye onto the fabric and spreading it outward with a small plastic card. This insures that the fabric is fully saturated, but the then pushes the excess ink to the periphery.
Once the ink is evenly applied to the desired area of fabric, the negative, toner side down, can be applied. I tried taping down the fabric with painters tape, but it was more trouble than it was worth. With the right amount of ink the fabric sticks perfectly to the acetate above and below it, making a fine vacuum like sandwich of acetate, ink soaked fabric and acetate. In order to get this you have to press out the last bubbles that have become stuck under the top layer of acetate. Work from the middle out, rather than pushing the bubbles in circles. If you have "normal" hearing, you can actually hear the bubbles "pop" as you push them out or "click" as you push them around. When you can't hear them anymore, they are gone. The are also visible as misshapen 2D shapes.
Step 8: Exposing!
The instructions call for exposing the ink to sunlight. Since I want exact times, for specific inks/fabrics/negatives etc, a variable like how much sunlight gets to my fabric is not tolerable. So I used a UV/black light flood bulb that I have used in previous projects that require UV exposure. It fits in a bed side lamp, so it is actually really convenient.
The only draw back is the limited exposure area. I sometimes shift the lamp around to make sure it hits all of a larger area. I am considering finding some multi-bulb apparatus at ikea and hooking it up was so blacklight bulbs to create a much larger exposure field...
The ink really seems very unresponsive to my incandescent house lights, which gave me plenty of time to saturate my fabric before turning on my UV light. I also found my natural light light bulb, which I had for photography, worked as well as the UV bulb (based on my test with the red and blue dyes), but it cast a smaller beam (and didn't look as cool), so I stuck with the UV bulb.
Step 9: Clean Up!
I tried washing my acetate/negatives in the sink, but it was super awkward. I am now a fan of wiping everything down with wet paper towels.
The fabric needs to be washed thoroughly so that there no is dye left that may continue to develop or stain other things. The bottle says to run the fabric through the washer several times. Since the dye smells like hair dye (because it is full of ammonia) I have been giving it a thorough having washing (assuming shampoo should also work in this case). This has still lead to some interesting stains on my ironing board cover. Also, this has not been enough for the navy and black dyes, and they have continued to get bluer... Thorough washing is key.
Also, if you are doing this inside too, definitely open some windows and get some air flowing, the ammonia smell is really strong.
Step 10: But, on Underwear?
I thought underwear would be easy because they are so small! But the first pair I used had no straight lines, and the elastic made the fabric always wrinkled, meaning getting the underwear flat so it could be inked and exposed was obnoxious, and I honestly think dying regular cloth and then sewing it into a pair of new underwear would have been simpler. I am seriously considering it.
This fabric also turned out to react much differently than the thinner woven muslin I had been testing the dye on. It turns out knit fabric, such as the underwear were made of, is obnoxious because it tried to stretch every which way as I tried to smooth the ink into it with my little plastic card.
The pair I used were the plainest pair I could find at american apparel.
The lack of any straight lines + stretchy made fitting the negative to the fabric also really obnoxious.
Step 11: Fitting the Image to a Strange Form
I printed out a bunch of copies of the image I was working with. To make sure that the image fit onto a single piece of paper without the image ending abruptly, as well as the image reaching all the weird corners of the underwear.
I traced out how I needed to cut the negative with my handy sharpie. I also got handy marks on the nice new underwear on accident, be careful, I switched to vis-a-vis markers at this point. But they bleed easy and also got on the underwear... there is no winning.
After a first failed cut out negative, I switched to carefully matching one side at a time. I got the top lines to meant up nicely, ie the elastic band on the underwear and the negative edge. I then carefully matched up the boundaries on the leg holes one at a time. The required laying down the transparency, marking the overlapping areas carefully, and then trimming carefully, and laying down the transparency again to see if it fit. Very annoying, because I really wanted all of the edges of the negative to tuck neatly into all of the elastic.
For good measure I cut out an underwear shaped test swatch, to make sure the exposure would reach the far ends and such. That test at least turned out great!
Step 12: Exposing Ones Underwear
Serious cobbling happened at this point. Stretching out the elastic which caused wrinkles, while still keeping a flat surface under the front piece of the underwear was a challenge. I imagine something clever made from cardboard could be created. I, however, just kept grabbing materials that happened to be within arms reached until it looked good. This included 4 or 5 scraps of acrylic sheet, a piece of ply wood, a pen and a pipette.
After I eventually got the negative cut to size, I added two small pieces of transparency printed black to cover the wing(?) areas, where a 8.5x11 transparency couldn't reach. With a little painters tape to finish off the ends.
I saturated the entire front section with dye, while trying to avoid the elastic bands. The dye will leave a noticeable color even if it's not exposed. So if I just didn't put any dye in the wing areas, even though there wouldn't be an image, there would be a weird situation where the color stopped abruptly.
Step 13: Mixed Success!
My test swatches had gotten really good, but the different fabric resulted in a lighter and fuzzier image. There was also some dye that escaped onto the elastic bands. I have committed more to either dying the elastic parts or masking them off I think. Rather, I tried placing confetti stars over the escaped bits of dye hoping for cute stars... but there wasn't enough escaped dye for the stars to be made out =/
On to better underwear!
Step 14: Second Attempt at Underwear (preliminary Testing)
I got a thinner cotton underwear with less elastic bunchiness from victoria's secret.
I also decided I needed to not have to cut a complicated shaped negative AND to make a more serious decision about what to do about the elastic trim. I decided to try the lumi dye resist. This is like a waxy paint that you paint on, and then it blocks any dye from getting to an area. I decided to do a central circle outline of wax and place the image in the middle. So I tested it first.
I found a round object to use as a stencil, in this case an acrylic disc, and pressing the disc tightly to the test swatch I painted the lumi resist fluid around the circle, then carefully peeled back the circle. The instructions say to allow to dry for 30 minutes.
After the resist dried I poured some dye into the center of the circle and spread the dye around with my little card. I found, however, that the dye actually re-wet the wax to some extent, and there was no good way to remove the excess without also scraping away the wax, and in this way a lot of wax was removed. Thus I learned it may be better to use a brush in the future.
Step 15: Final Trial!
This pair of underwear laying flat more easily, I only had to slip a bit of acrylic sheet topped with acetate to keep the front and back parts separated. I Then held my circular object tightly to the center of the front and carefully painted the resist around the circle.
When I pulled the circle back I saw that the lines had gotten particularly wonky at the elastic band, because the band jutted out a little. So I opted to hand paint in the little bit of elastic bands around the circle area I was intending to develop. I let this then dry.
I then got a nicer brush than I used at the very beginning and carefully painted a mixture of about 2 parts red to 1 part plum onto the circular area of the undies. I mixed up the ink in a little tray, and not directly on the undies.
I then figured out how the negative would be best positioned, then cut a straight line across the top of the negative that I aligned with the elastic waist band. The elastic for the leg areas kept the negative from laying perfectly flat in those areas. I didn't have any detail in those areas, so it was ok, just something to be aware of.
Then I finally exposed the undies!
Step 16: Results!
I was much happier with the victoria's secret undies. I only got the dye a little darker than I'd hoped, it turned out more of a red than a pink. Also a tiny bit of dye got on the waist band, but overall I think the second pair were quite an improvement.
Comments, questions, suggestions?!
Thanks for reading! (Please vote for me, I totally need more dye and a silhouette would totally make cutting out interesting negative shapes easier =P )
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