Sunday, 1 January 2012

Heliographic Art


For Christmas, I received a selection of Sun Dyes from KraftKolour P/L. Sun Dyes are heliographic dyes, meaning that they are sun sensitive, and react to infra-red light. I've been wanting to get some for a while, after seeing a little tutorial for a similar product, over on How About Orange.

The dyes come in a lovely range of colours, I was lucky enough to receive Grevillea, Violet, Citrus, Opal and Fern in the medium sized bottles. I went to Spotlight yesterday, and using my $10 voucher I purchased some plain white broadcloth to use for projects like this.


There was an old door laying around in the shed, which makes the perfect portable table for this kind of project. I should warn you, if you are going to use something and don't want to stain it, you should really cover it with plastic before you begin. The dye goes right through the fabric and there is now a lovely (permanent) button design on the old door.

My fabric was about 40cm x 110cm. I taped my fabric to the door, and then we liberally coated it with the dye mixed 50/50 with water. I used about 60ml of dye to 60ml of water. I have since read other recommendations to water it down more, which I will do next time. I guess the manufacturers want you to use more than you need. Also, when I do this again, after taping my fabric, I might wet it before brushing it with the ink, just to draw out the drying time. There was a little ink left over, but not a lot, so I think my estimate of how much to mix up was probably about right. I would rather waste a little dye than run out mid-project.


It was so hot and sunny outside today, I was afraid the ink was going to dry before the buttons went down. So we put down a row along one edge and the rest were rather hastily scattered across the fabric. Some of the edges were a bit blurry, I think that would be partly due to the buttons not being perfectly flat and light getting under them, and partly due to them being moved around a little. I think the blazing sun was probably also a factor and that the dye had started to develop before we got those buttons scattered.

After leaving the wet fabric to dry in the sun, I brought it in and gave it a good pressing with a really hot iron to set the dye. After leaving it to cure for 24 hours it should be good to wash.


  1. This looks great Carmel - the girls made calico shopping bags with designs painted on in Sun dye for me for Mothers Day this year - they are such lovely bright colours.

  2. Wow that is awesome!! I bet that print that you now have would make the cutest dress!

  3. This is fabulous, Love this idea. I MUST get myself some of those paints. Happy New Year.

  4. wow, Carmel, that's awesome! I would NEVER think to try this! But how awesome getting the kids involved, and making your own fabric! I used to read How About Orange, but stopped, how cool is the safety pin fabric? Can't wait to see what you make next (pressure haha)

  5. Oh this is just SO good. Love it. What an awesome gift. Brilliant. Love the button idea too. Ooooo... it is all so good.


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