This month’s Whimseybox included samples of a new product, called Ink Effects, from our friends at DecoArt. Ink Effects is a fabric transfer ink that allows you to paint an image on ordinary printer paper and then iron it on to a textile. Rather than sitting on top of the fabric like a stiff iron-on transfer, the Ink Effects ink settles in smoothly to the fabric with little distortion of the feel of the fabric. Ink Effects colors blend nicely together, and when I saw my collection of colors, I instantly knew what I wanted to try my hand at. I needed a project for my inner space geek, and Ink Effects was the perfect way to pull it off. Read on to see how you can create a nebula pillow of your own to add some geek chic to your home decor.
From your September Whimseybox:
- Ink Effects Fabric Transfer Ink (colors can vary, based on what kind of nebula you want to make. For this project, I used black, blue, purple and pink. Be sure to use the color dot on the top of the ink bottle as your guide, not what the color looks like in the bottle or while painting)
- Piece of synthetic fabric (if you decide to use a fabric with a high cotton content, you need to be sure to use the Ink Effects Base Coat before painting)
- Small paintbrush
- Printer/Copier paper
- Old Toothbrush
- White acrylic paint
For Pillow (you can make your nebula in to anything you like, though)
- at least a 10″x12″ piece of fabric for the pillow backing
- Fabric Scissors
- Straight Pins
- Chopstick or something to push the PolyFill into the corners of the pillow
- Sewing Machine
- Needle for hand sewing pillow closure
The first thing you can do is a Google Image search for “Nebula” or “Nebulae” so you can be inspired by the magnificence of these astronomical beauties. You don’t necessarily need to pick one to copy, but it’s a good way to get inspired by the colors and varying shapes nebulae take.
Next, prepare a surface for painting. Here, I used a scrap piece of cardboard and old applesauce containers (one of my favorite “tools” in my studio) to hold small amounts of the Ink Effects fabric ink. I was pleasantly surprised to find that you need very little of the ink for this project. A little goes a very long way.
For this particular style of nebula, I started with a pink center. I simply freehanded a circle in the middle of my printer paper. Don’t fret with perfection, just paint freely and easily.
Next, I added a purple circle around the pink center. I didn’t even bother washing out my brush between colors. I like the way it helped the colors blend together. I also overlapped the center circle just slightly to help blend the colors.
Next came a blue circle, also without having washed out my brush. Again, overlap the purple circle just a bit to help really get the colors blending together. I love the way the Ink Effects inks blend – it’s one of their best qualities.
Finally, I painted black ink all around the border of the page. I applied it thickly, because I wanted it to transfer as darkly as possible. Once I had the border painted, I went through and added each color back on to the sponge brush and did a few wisps of the brush across the other bands of colors, further blending them and adding a little dimension. Again, don’t fret with perfection here. The looser and more laid back you are, the better your nebula will turn out. Don’t hesitate to practice, too. This was my second try at the nebula!
Let your painting dry for 30-45 minutes. Heat your iron to a high setting with no steam/water at all. Press your fabric to get wrinkles out and to warm the fabric (the transfer seems to take better to warm fabric) Place your painting face down on the fabric.
Iron the entire painting for several minutes, keeping the iron moving at all times. This took longer than I expected, but because this is such a dense painting that covers the entire page, that made sense. Keep that iron moving so you don’t scorch your fabric. Pay special attention to the edges of your page, as those seemed to transfer lighter for me, because I was so heavy with the iron on the center of the picture.
When you feel your transfer is complete, carefully remove your painting to reveal your nebula underneath. Keep in mind that when you are working with a transfer process like this, your image will be reversed on the fabric.
Next, we want to add some stars and more dimension to the nebula. I did this in two layers. First, use the small paintbrush or a toothpick to paint small white stars randomly across the nebula. I also used the brush to paint a small bright crosshair star. The next step somehow eluded being photographed, but is easy to describe: put a small amount of white acrylic paint on the dry bristles of an old toothbrush. Run your thumb across the bristles to produce a fine mist of paint across the nebula. Practice on a scrap piece of fabric or paper first to get a feel for this, and make sure your work space is completely covered. You’d be surprised how far paint can fly!
At this point, you can do whatever you like with your nebula fabric. I decided to sew mine in to a small, simple pillow. Read on for instructions on how to do that!
When you feel your nebula is complete, let it dry for an hour or so. I wanted my nebula pillow to be solid nebula, so I trimmed a 1/4″ border around the painted area. I cut a piece of backing fabric to the same size as the newly trimmed nebula painting, and pinned them right sides together.
Using a 1/2″ seam allowance (this will cover the 1/4″ border you left, and will stitch about 1/4″ into the paint job, giving a nice crisp finish) sew around the pieces of fabric, leaving a 2″opening at the bottom. Clip the corners of your fabric to help smooth them when the pillow is turned right-side-out.
Turn the pillow right-side-out through the 2″ opening in the bottom of the pillow and stuff with PolyFill, using a chopstick to help you get the stuffing pressed firmly into the corners. Once the pillow is fully stuffed, turn the opening in and pin it shut. Use a ladder stitch to close the final seam.
Your pillow is now complete! Enjoy this little bit of the Cosmos on your couch, chair or bed!