Dyed Pellon Background Technique

Glad you stopped by to "play" with me in my sandbox today! This is a fun, easy technique and as you will see later on, very versatile. So let's get started...

If you don't have any pellon, it's time for a trip to the fabric store. Purchase some heavy, stiff pellon which is a white interfacing (non iron on) that sewers use to stiffen lapels, etc. in jackets. It's very reasonable in price so get at least a half a yard (or meter) to play with. Cut out lots of 4" x 4" squares to play with but leave some larger pieces so you can play with a bigger piece later on, especially if you want to print some graphics onto the pellon (more on that later!).

For those impatient types who don't like waiting around for something to dry, (ahem.. do you know anyone like that?) you will need your hair dryer to dry the dyed pellon. You will also need some heavy duty freezer packing paper and liquid watercolors. I used Moon Shadow "Gossamer Gold" first, then Color Mists "Copper Kettle" in the sample below. I haven't tried mixing up either tube or cake watercolours but I am betting that either of them would work just as well. A couple of water misters are handy. Have one filled with just plain water nearby and use the other to spray "mix your own" watercolours.

The numbers in the sample refer to the three different looks you can achieve. Play around with these until you get the look you want. Remember you are just experimenting not trying to come up with a finished product!

1. Spray pellon in light spurts with watercolour (i.e. Moon Glow's Shadow Mists or Colour Mists Crumple pellon into a tight ball while wet, roll it around for a minute or so to get subtle wrinkles (put on some disposable gloves if you don't want to dye your hands too). Flatten lightly and let dry naturally or use your hair dryer. Spray with second, even third colour to add more depth and a more mottled appearance. Let dry.

2. Give pellon a dip (in and out VERY quickly) into a bowl of water once you have "dyed" it. But be quick, the watercolour will disappear fast! You can, using my favourite way, spray it with water after it is dyed and soak up the water with a paper towel. Place it on a paper towel to dry and often you'll often get a serendipity piece of paper to play with!

3. Spray dried pellon from technique 1 with water. Don't soak but give it a goodsquirt to disperse the watercolour. Let dry.

Once dry, you can fuse the pellon to freezer paper with your iron to ready it for printing. Sandwich the pellon between the shiny shide of the freezer paper and a scrap of paper when you fuse to keep your iron clean. Moderate hot iron temp.

Oh, you say you'd rather print a graphic on it first and then dye? Okay. Follow this step

Please note: this works with laser printers ONLY. Sandwich the pellon between the shiny side of the freezer paper and a piece of scrap paper. Use a medium hot iron to fuse. Cut to size to fit your printer. You can get 4 - 4 inch x 4 inch squares from an 8-1'2 x 11 inch sheet if you want smaller samples. Just cut them apart when you are done. Print your graphic on the "fabric" with your laser printer BEFORE you dye it.

To dye the "fabric" after printing, just remove the freezer paper backing and follow step 1 to dye it.

Q. But I don't have a laser printer! Can I still do this?
A. Yes. It will work with inkjet printers as well but you must DYE YOUR PELLON FIRST then fuse it to freezer paper.

Q. I don't want to dye the pellon. I just want a white background with an image printed inblack. What do I do?
A. Just fuse the pellon to freezer paper. Cut to size to fit your printer and away you go. Treat the pellon just like ordinary printer paper that you use every day. I always put it on manual feed and change my printer paper setting to "thick paper". Yes, it's that easy. Here is a sample photo:

Q. I want to print a colour graphic on my pellon with my inkjet printer. Can I do that?
A. Yes, you can, although I would recommend that you get some InkAid from Ontario Speciality Products. Although this pre-coat is not "cheap", you'll have it for a long time. You might want to consider ordering the "Sampler Set". I have both the white matte and semi gloss clear in quarts and use it all the time in my art work for printing. It is amazing to me how long my ink cartridges last considering how much printing I do. My understanding is that Golden has come out with a similar product to InkAid but I have not tried it. It likely works in exactly the same way.

Think of InkAid as a way to prepare your pellon for printing just like you would put gesso on raw canvas before painting. The graphic will be much brighter, the colours truer AND you will save ink. At the cost of printer cartridges these days, you want your cartridge to last as long as possible. The end result is a subtle colour difference that makes all the difference... if you get my drift (BIG GRIN)

The InkAid site has lots of info about their different products. Spend some time there reading up on it to get some other ideas of how you can use the product in your art work.

Coat your pellon with InkAid before printing. Just brush it on with a paint brush. Two coats are usually enough to give it a good base. Let it dry between coats. Leave it overnight before using to make sure that it is completely dry. Trust me... you do not want to muck up your printer with this stuff!

Here is a sample photo, done on the same inkjet with and without InkAid. Notice the difference in the blue of the jacketr:

Q. The "fabric" feels quite soft and doesn't have a sheen. What can I do to stiffen it up and give it more "life"?
A. If you want your fabric to have more of a sheen, paint it with a gloss varnish. It won't make it shiny... it has a tendency to soak into the pellon, but it will give it a soft glow and bring out the colours. It will also make your fabric stiffer. Make sure it is completely dry before you use it.

So go experiment now... and on Friday, I'll give you a few more ideas of how to color pellon prints that you haven't dyed. I'll also tell you how to do gel photo transfers onto background pieces you have created.

Any questions so far? Send them to me at this address: sharonhouse at (just change "at" to @ when you send the email) I'll do my best to answer them. I would ask though that you give me permission to post the questions and answers in a future post so that everyone can benefit from them. If you don't want your first name published... that's okay... I'll just use "anonymous" or an initial. Just let me know what you prefer!

Have a playful day... see you Friday!


P.S. When I make these samples, I usually leave the freezer paper on the back so I can write down what I did to achieve the look on the front. You can then put them in an art technique binder or journal for future reference.