Experimenting with Dye-Na-Flow

Call me crazy but when I discover a new media I get obsessed! Dye-Na-Flow has fulfilled a much wanted request of mine for ages. I can now easily be creative on all types of fabric; come take a look at all the possibilities!

Is it Paint or Dye?

This is what Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow looks like and is very thin in the bottle; about as thin as milk.

This high chroma, highly transparent liquid fabric paint is permanent on any porous or semi-porous surface, including natural and synthetic fabrics, leather and wood. In many ways, it simulates a true dye: Dye-Na-Flow spreads on fabric until it is thoroughly absorbed and even, sinking into the fibers like a dye instead of sitting on the surface like thicker paints and inks. The colors are super vibrant & washfast and will not change the feel of the fabric, making it a powerful tool whenever true dyes are impractical. A uniquely versatile fluid acrylic, Dye-Na-Flow is used for a diverse range of applications, from silk painting to wood staining.

Jacquard products

How amazing is that?! In today’s industry it is much more difficult to find natural fabrics; especially when thrifting so now I can make use of any garment to up-cycle.

Since I love to add art to everyday apparel and pretty well anything that can be creative, this has opened up a lot of possibilities. As far back as I can remember I have been embellishing my clothing, often it would be a crusty, thick paint that was quite difficult to paint on.

This however is so thin that it sinks into the fabric right away. I tested a few types of fibres since it is not limited to only using natural fibres like cotton, linen or wool (like other traditional Fibre Reactive or Botanical/Eco Printing) Any fabric or even porous surface will accept this paint/dye; I do not know what to call it…

Here is some fun playing with different brushes and swatches on linen, cotton, polyester, & rayon. Yes! Polyester! I learn the most by observation (Taurus’s are known for that!) and come to some valuable conclusions. It is always best to do a small test piece.

More Amazing Ability:

Not only am I impressed about this media’s ability to attach to a variety of fibres but also that it can be used in Sun Printing! I excitedly set some painted pieces out with leaves last summer (yes, it takes a long time to really understand a media!) and was amazed instantly at the results.

How crazy it is to see how the Dye-Na-Flow seems to magically ‘move’ to create reversed silhouettes in the background colour. I don’t know the science (can only guess) but I do know that there is no light sensitive photographic emulsion used here!

The amount of detail and texture layering opens a whole world of possibilities! It’s great for all those who always think that since they can not draw they are not creative! I will be making an in-depth post about the ‘tricks and tips’ a little later on. ‘Imagine all the kinds of objects that could be used…

Watercolour Effect:

As an illustrator there are certain things that are so sexy in the world of paint; like the way colours flow into each other! That has only usually been possible with watercolor washes or specific paint pouring, but now depending on the fabric you can also do that with this media. (I do not want to call it paint or dye)

I love the subtle nuances of how edges develop, marbling and colours travel/mix or even the ‘splash-ability’!’ ‘And this is 100% sheerish polyester that became a lovely Kimono.

Different Characteristics of Fabric:

Notice that it’s not that fussy design?! Abstract or random designs seem to pop as a great surface design on all kinds of objects. Take inspiration from whatever you like… Often the most simple designs are best… & easy.

Each fabric has different weaves, numbers of threads per inch, absorbability, and thickness. These all play into how it takes this ‘Dye/Paint’ media. Since it sinks into the fabric, the amount and the way it may bleed will also effect the outcome (linen above loves to absorb). My words of wisdom; to prevent frustration as an artist do not try to ‘fight the media’, embrace it! Make sure to use clean pre-washed fabric, to remove any sizing if it is new.

In other words; use the effect as an intentional aspect of the design. If it bleeds a lot, use that as a design, or if it is more streaky make it look like it should be sketchy.

How can you really go wrong with the way geode designs are? They are random and beautiful, any colour combination (but do remember simple colour combinations often look more sophisticated) If colours are not flat it looks even more natural. This fabric paint can be as mottled as a stained glass window…

Surface design has a million options; sponge printing, airbrush, batik, spray, salt technique, stencils (resist technique), stamping, whatever ‘floats your boat’! Even the notion of using squirt bottles to make some beautiful starburst affect. Splash it on, create islands of color, do they need a boundary?!

Do we really need Perfection?

It has taken me a long time to overcome the need to be perfect… (decades) and I am honestly seeing that it really frees me. I had that typical obsession that photo-realism was to strive for in the world of accomplished artists. Boy, have things changed when I see the art that is hung on walls now!

So I am happy to loosen up, take the ‘gist’ of the object, like the simple, easy roses. (in Honour of a special ‘Rose’ in my life)

Don’t be afraid to have scale be one of the design elements! A huge flower will have a different appeal that many smalls ones…

Line, Shape, Space, Texture & Pattern

Art College First year.

Even More Canvases:

Ok, I may need to join ‘Jean-Jacket-Oholics’! Yes, DO NOT ask me how many I have! (more to be available in the store soon) As long as the fabric/material is light coloured enough for this dye/paint to sink into the better. The lightest jean jackets are great for this! Maybe some bleaching beforehand may also allow this!

Painting with the Dye-Na-Flow on denim is wonderful! It is very absorbent allowing subtle strokes, almost like on canvas. Cool water and watercolor techniques make for such artsy painting!

The way the brush travels over and makes a ‘sketchy’ drawing is so textural and shows each stroke! I have so many fond memories of Life Drawing in college. There’s such a charm to see how someone’s hand made each stroke, isn’t there? Don’t you agree? I can imagine some wax or jacquard water-based resist could add another dimension!

Paint First?

Depending on your vision, maybe you like to paint yardage first and then sew? The size of your fabric open possibilities, as does the surface of the fabric. I may need to get a larger closet! I keep seeing more design possibilities… clothing of all kinds. Oh, but wait; why not interior design elements?!

I could see some amazing abstract cushions, placemats, hats, bags, kitchen dishcloths (imagine a recipe) jackets, scarves, hoodies, bed linen, have I missed something?! Even if the item is not able to be ironed it could be heat set in other ways. Alternative means of fixing could be the dryer or a hair dryer.

This is not the end of my Dye-Na-Flow experience; only the beginning. I will be sharing some specific projects and process very soon. Start thinking… hmmm, what can I be creative on?!

I’ll probably be wearing this on Sunday! And it feels just like the fabric it started as! Tell me if you have ever used this amazing media – Dye-Na-Flow!

I’ve worked with Dye-Na-Flow and am happy to report they have washed so well! I have used it full strength like a fluid acrylic paint and also diluted with no issues. I am happy that type of fiber is not an issue here.

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  1. Hi. Am preparing to do calligraphy on cotton. Have used liquid acrylic thinned with fiber medium. Wondering if you have noticed when the seta colors bleed the least? Thanks.

    1. I am still experimenting… I love the fluidity of the Dye-na-flow but with that comes the bleeding. If it is a tight weave then it will ‘travel’ less. Also the amount on the brush or pen will make it bleed. I’m liking how it is on a tight weave polyester. If it does bleed, then maybe not expecting perfection is key. (stay posted for more posts)

  2. Barb, you really stir my creative juices! Love your work, just love it. The dyna flow is interesting. Especially the dress and the denim jacket. Hope to try this soon. Keep up the good work. Jan J

  3. Hi,

    Thank you for the video and all the information. Did you treat the fabric before you painted on it? Did you was it or prep it with a soaking solution? I find it hard to paint with these. It bleeds with too much and too little on the brush nothing can be accomplished. I find the color to not hold once done. How are you using these paints to get the results you do. do you have a video with voice that explains your process including any prep?

    1. I have had great retention of colour. The weave of the fabric does affect how it absorbs the paint/dye. The tighter threads have less bleeding and alternatively the very bulky fabrics tend to need a lot of paint. There’s no solution to fit each scenario. If it’s more challenging then I accept it’s characteristic and work with what in the design sense. Sometimes perfection is unrealistic for certain media; I’ve come to understand that from all my years of making and painting. Once done painting with Dye Na Flow make sure to heat set well too. I prefer the tigt polyester weaves as then there’s less bleed and also paints well, and great retention. Cottons alway have a ‘wear’ factor…