Shadow Printing

Shadow prints are a simple way to witness the magic of Inkodye and create unique designs on any natural fabric. 

This technique has many names and was popularized by Anna Atkins' cyanotype photograms, Man Ray's "rayographs" and the creations of many other artists including Pablo Picasso. Now you can easily recreate the same effect with Inkodye.

Find Objects

1. Find Objects

Start by finding objects that cast dark shadows. It’s best to start with objects that aren’t translucent. 

Look around you, all kinds of things can create beautiful shapes and patterns. Try safety pins, gears, keys, paper cutouts or even a lace doily!

Ideas can come from anywhere: the kitchen, your office, the hardware store, a walk in the park... 

Leaves and flowers make stunning prints, especially if you flatten them overnight inside a book. 

Tip: Flat objects will produce crisper edges than objects that are more three-dimensional.


2. Prepare

Find a workspace away from direct sunlight. A dim place inside a garage, a basement, laundry room or even under the shade of a tent in a park.

Inkodye reacts to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. The type of light that will give you a tan is what makes Inkodye develop its color. 

Inkodye is very permanent so make sure to wear an old shirt or apron. 

One packet of Inkodye contains more than enough for your pouch. Use the rest for practice or to print another project! 

Note: Inkodye contains ammonia, apply in a well-ventilated area.

Apply & Blot

3. Apply & Blot

Do not remove the cardboard pad inside your pouch, it will help keep things flat while printing. 

Shake your Inkodye packet, then snap it in half and squeeze. Use the packet itself to spread a thin layer of Inkodye on the light side of the canvas pouch.

If you have a trouble reaching the corners, a foam brush can help spread the dye. 

Using a paper towel blot the excess Inkodye off of the fabric. Your pouch should be slightly damp to the touch, not wet. Don’t skip this step! If the fabric is too wet your print may turn out blotchy.


4. Design

Time to get creative! Place your objects directly on top of the coated fabric wherever you’d like their shadows to appear.

If your objects are very thin you can hold them down using the acrylic sheet. This is particularly useful to keep leaves or paper cutouts from blowing away in the wind. 

If your objects are heavier or thicker you won’t need to use the acrylic.


5. Expose

Hold on to your socks! Things are about to get magical. 

Take your project outside and let the sunlight reveal Inkodye’s color! At noon on a sunny day your print should develop in about 12 minutes.

Don’t bring your print in too soon. Even if the color seems fully developed, those last few minutes help set the color and ensure it won’t fade later on. 

Cloudy day? Inkodye may take over 20–30 minutes to fully develop. If it’s windy make sure the fabric doesn’t move during exposure.


6. Remove

Ready to see what you’ve created? Take your project back inside, away from direct sunlight, then remove the objects to reveal your print! 

Note: Your fabric is still sensitive to sunlight at this stage. If it gets exposed to light the white areas could develop color.


7. Wash

You’re almost done, but you still need to wash your print to remove the unexposed Inkodye. 

Using Inkowash detergent, machine wash your prints on the HOT/COLD setting of your washing machine. For best results, wash your prints TWICE using Inkowash, after that you can wear and wash them as you normally would.

Wear & share

8. Wear & share

There’s one last step: take a photo and share your creation with the hashtag #inkodye. 

Bringing Lumi and Inkodye to life was made possible by a community of makers and adventurers on the crowd-funding site 

Your amazing creations drive us to continue building innovative new products, so spread the word and share your #inkodye projects!

Bonus Tip

9. Bonus Tip

Love to draw? Try drawing on transparency film with an opaque black paint marker or fresh dry erase marker to block the sun and transfer your illustrations onto fabric.