Transfer Dyes with Ranger Heat Set Inks

Ranger Heat Set ink dyes are disperse dyes that are painted onto paper to make an iron-on transfer. Ranger Heat Set Ink is ready to use and easily diluted with water and can be mixed with other Heat Set Ink colours to build your palette. Brushes are cleaned up with water. Ranger transfer ink/ dyes are non-toxic, but use commonsense and keep them from small children and food preparation surfaces.

Mix about 1/8 teaspoon of the ink/dye to about 3 Tablespoons of water. Adjust the proportions of dye or water as needed once you’ve made up some samples and can see the results. The Heat Set Inks produce bright colours and. I suggest buying a bottle of Ranger Fabric Medium, which can be added a drop at a time to make the colours pastel, if desired. Black is also a good basic to darken the colours. Stir well to dissolve the dye, and then stir regularly with your brush while you paint to keep the dye suspended in the solution. Mix up the dye solution in small yogurt containers or baby food jars.

Choose good quality copy paper to paint on, although almost any paper will work. Use watercolor brushes or small sponge brushes. Clean your brush before dipping into a new colour. All paper will buckle when wet and the dye will pool. As the paper dries, use the paintbrush to spread the dye out of the pools.

When the painting is dry, I often add another layer of colour to the painting to add more depth. This builds up overlapping transparent layers of colour. The colours look washed out and dull on the paper, but magically transform into vivid colours once you iron them. Test one of your paintings to see if they are too pale and need more ink/dye added, or perhaps a drop of Textile Medium or black – experiment with small amounts to adjust the colours to your liking.

Fabric choices:
Disperse dyes are made for ironing onto man made fibers – the more polyester content the better. At least 60% polyester works best. Very light colours work best – white, cream very pale pastels fabrics.

The paper must be bone dry or it won’t transfer. Iron with the highest heat the fabric will take - I place a non-stick Teflon sheet over the transfer, but that’s optional. Remember, you are using a hot iron on polyester – so judge the heat carefully.

Protect your ironing board with a piece of fabric or the non-stick Teflon sheet. Lay your fabric on the fabric and place your painting face down on the fabric. Cover with a protective pressing sheet or piece of paper and iron the painting with a hot iron. The trick is to have the right combination of maximum heat, heavy pressure on the painting and to keep the iron moving slowly. If you hold the iron still then you will get the outline of the iron transferred onto the fabric. This especially noticeable when you get a row of steam vents in your sunset! A little practice and you’ll quickly find the right balance to get good, clear transfers. You don’t want the paper to move on the paper, or the transfer will blur.

NOTE: When you have completed the ironing and you think all the dye has been transferred into the fabric, set the iron aside and wait for a few seconds for the paper to cool. This gives the dye a chance to fully transfer into the fabric.

You can get a couple of progressively lighter transfers from the same paper.
Remember, that the painting will come out mirror image to what you have painted.


Ranger Heat Set Inks and Teflon sheets are available

All rights reserved. Copyright Valerie Hearder 2006.