Primary Tools & Materials:

Additional Tools & Materials: pencil, paper, tracing paper, pen, Adobe Photoshop, inkjet printer, xacto blade, iron, camera

For today's matchup the categories were "specialty paper" and "fibers." So I decided to experiment with inkjet printable iron on transfer paper and some of my favorite quilting fabric. Because I wanted to analyze the materials, I wanted the letterform to be pretty simple - nothing overly textured or decorative - so I could see the textures added by the iron-on paper and the fabric. I also chose a thin cotton fabric that looks like plain white on first glance, but when held against the light or placed on a dark surface, you can see whimsical, white floral print come to life. I thought this now-you-see-it-now-you-don't quality might have an interesting effect on the letterform. 

I drew this letter with pencil, traced it in ink, and scanned it into Adobe Photoshop. From there I added the solid green color overlay and a slight shadow, just for a bit of depth. I followed the instructions for file setup and printing onto the transfer paper, then cut out my reversed design with an xacto blade. Here I deviated a bit from the package instructions. Avery suggests that when trimming out the design, you cut right to the edge of the design to avoid what they call the "halo" effect: a shiny, transparent outline around the whole design. Well I had a feeling that would virtually disappear on this white fabric, so I tried it both ways; trimming right to the edge of the letter and again with maybe 1/16" white border. What I found was that not only did the "halo" disappear after ironing as I had hoped, the closer-trimmed letter showed imperfections in my own cutting job, which ruined the hand-drawn rough edge of my original drawing, and caused me to touch the printed area more, flaking off a few spots of color. So I'm officially team halo - leave a border, especially if you're ironing onto a light colored fabric. 

I ironed each letter onto the quilting fabric and I was pleased that both letters adhered evenly and cleanly to the fabric, and that the backing was easy to remove. I hadn't used iron on transfers in a long time, so I was afraid it would be a pain. I can only guess that iron-on technology has improved much since its inception. 

For me, the characteristic of this letter that's most striking is its reaction to different lighting. In image one, the fabric is backlit with diffused natural light, which makes the floral pattern darker both on the white areas and in the letterform. In images 5 and 6 the design virtually disappears when the fabric is placed on a light piece of fabric. In image 7 the pattern is lighter than the rest of the fabric when placed on a dark surface. To flesh this chameleon-like quality out for a whole font would be interesting - with either a floral pattern as I've shown here or any number of textures. The settings could be "backlit," "neutral," or "dark," each affecting the visible texture of the letterforms.