Feature of the month - Ink Dye Tips
Last month, I posted a request on the Arizona Gourds Facebook page for ideas of what my newsletter readers would like to see in upcoming issues. One of the topics that was suggested was to include some more tips and ideas for working with ink dyes. While I have used ink dyes on a few projects, I am no expert - so I went to the real expert for some answers.
Maria Dellos of Tucson, Arizona, is the true pioneer and expert at working with ink dyes. While employed at a local craft store, she had the fun task of attending trade shows, and experimenting with a huge variety of new products. One of the products that she experimented with was rubber stamp ink dye refills. While these products were originally designed for use on porous surfaces such as paper, she liked their light-fast properties. After playing around with them, she found that setting them with heat made them perfect for use on gourds. Her work with "Memories" brand ink dyes has pioneered the way for many gourd artists who were in search of an easy to use product that provides the translucency of leather dye, but with more light-fast, non-fading properties. Maria has written a book on ink dyes, and also has a website where she offers more innovative ideas for incorporating products from other hobbies into gourd art.
*Note - "Memories" Brand ink dyes by Stewart Superior are the same formula as "Gourdmaster™" Ink Dyes and may be used in the same manner. Other brands of ink dyes for stampers such as "Ancient Page", "Adirondack", "Chalk Ink" and others may work similarly, but have a slightly different base and dyes. Some are alcohol based, others are not - do some experimenting to find which products you prefer.
Using Memories Ink Dyes by Maria Dellos
Using Memories Ink Dyes to your gourd art offers permanent rich color with the promise of archival safe, acid free and fade resistant finishes to your gourds. Now that the factual statement has been reported; let’s go into specifics of the do's and don’ts to be successful with ink dyes.
How do I apply the Ink Dyes? To color a large area of the gourd you can use felt or a 1” x 1” ink cube. To color specific detailed area you can use a q-tip, microbrush or paintbrush. Whatever your choice, be aware that the inks are highly concentrated and using less is better.
Heat set after each color is applied. This prevents touching the wet ink and transferring the ink in places not intended.
How can I fix the gourd surface where the ink was not intended? If the ink dye carried over to an area that is still natural gourd surface, you can remove it with a baby wipe. Do not do this if there is ink dye already on that section, this action will ruin that inked area. Instead, allow it to dry, and then gently sand it off and carefully apply the ink back. Using a q-tip with a trace of ink applied to the tip, dab over the sanded area until the color appears even; heat set.
Can I apply ink over a varnished gourd? The answer is NO! The varnish applied over the ink provides a strong and durable finish to the inks. Inks applied over that surface will instantly remove the varnish and the ink underneath. This action has amazed me, however, I have found great use for this when I intentionally want to remove a detailed area and to re-ink it with new color. Most of the color will come off with a baby wipe. You possibly may have to use a little pressure to scrape it off completely. The surface is now ready to color as if no color has been there prior.
Can I Blend Colors? Let’s take a good example using a fall leaf pattern. Suggested color inks to use: Port Red, ArtPrint Brown, Pinetree Green and Mango. Use one q-tip for each color ink, so plan on using many for this technique. Apply a streak of one color at a time over the surface of the leaf. Be sure to leave natural gourd in between each application so you can drag the colors into each other. The ink will remain wet enough so you can drag and feather the colors together. If at this time you need to add more color, carefully and sparingly add another streak of color to the area and repeat the process.
Final Step – Varnishing I have discovered the best way to apply the final coat of varnish over the entire gourd is with a cosmetic sponge. Simply dab a light coat of varnish over your entire gourd. Do not drag or it will cause colors to smear. I have found Polyurethane Water Based Varnish to be the most compatible and durable when used with Memories Inks. If so desired, you can apply a second coat of varnish after 5-10 minutes of the first coat.
Tip from Barbara Larkum of AZ: Use a piece of hard plastic such as plexiglass as a permanent ink palette. Squeeze a drop onto the surface, then use microbrushes or cosmetic q-tip type applicators that have one flat, blunt end and one pointed end. Another great applicator for covering large surfaces is to buy inexpensive sheets of craft felt, then cut them into small squares. Squeeze a drop or two onto the felt, then apply as usual, using the felt to spread the dye evenly. When you are finished, discard the felt - no cleanup, and at a very low cost as you can get many small squares from one sheet of felt.