Primary Tools & Materials:

Additional Tools & Materials: pencil, pen, tracing paper, scanner, Adobe Photoshop, die cutter software, card stock, cotton canvas fabric, small sheet of glass, camera, cold water, washing machine, laundry soap

This letter was created through photo-sensitive chemistry, using Inkodye photo-sensitive ink and some stencils I created on my Silhouette die cutting machine. I've had this ink for over a year, so I was thrilled to finally have a chance to use it. I started by drawing four different letter Rs - two of my own design (the lowercase script and the chunky ball terminal), and two traced from a book of 1960s advertising samples. After drawing, scanning, and sending these Rs to my die cutting software, I was left with both a set of solid cut out letters and a stencil with all four removed. I decided to try the process with both - both the letter knocked out (in orange) and in solid (blue). 

The Inkodye process involves brushing a thin layer of the transparent, almost glue-like ink over the fabric and then placing a design on top of the ink while it's still damp. They also recommend you do all this in semi-darkness, then place a glass pane over the design to hold it down. I set all this up on top of an overturned shoebox, then covered the canvas with the box's lid and carried it outside. Almost immediately the ink began to develop and become a darker shade of orange (see image 4). After 8 minutes, the ink had fully developed. I then rinsed it in cold water, then ran it through a hot wash cycle. Then I repeated the whole process with the blue ink and the "stencil," which produced solid letters rather than knocked out. 

This study resulted in surprisingly well-defined letters. I had expected to see blurry edges, and in some places they did become blurry, but overall the letters remained pretty true to the original designs. In the cover image, a slight shadow can be seen on the top edge of the ball terminal. This would be interesting to try and capture purposefully - maybe slightly shift the stencil over a tiny bit halfway through exposure. The other unexpected feature is that the brown card stock I used to create my stencils bled onto the fabric, and unfortunately didn't wash out. I think I could prevent this by either using thicker white card stock or waiting for the ink to dry a bit more before placing the design on it. This study also produced some dramatic gradients near the edges of the canvas where the fabric peeked out from under the glass.