Tinting and Dying Worbla’s TranspArt and DecoArt/Friendly Plastic

Amanda of Elemental Photography and Design created this tutorial for tinting or dying TranspArt with iDyePoly dyes.
Elemental-9155

Worbla’s TranspArt is awesome for clear applications, but sometimes you want it to have a colour while still being able to see through it. Automotive spray tints are an option, but depending on where you live, they’re hard to get – or only come in very limited colours. And if you need the piece to remain flexible, spray tints can flake off your surface.

It’s possible to dye TranspArt, however, and quite easy – and the dyes are decently priced (though somewhat limited to single day/project use). TranspArt once dyed still retains a great deal of the colour depth (even when stretched) and shaped pieces can be dyed, though they may need to be reformed as the process requires hot water.

Worbla’s DecoArt is known as Friendly Plastic (or Polycaprolactone) in North America and takes colour very well, allowing great light transparency – though it can be difficult to dye evenly.

Keep in mind that this tutorial is based on iDyePoly Yellow and Red – and I’ve had success with Blue as well. Always test your dye and plastic before working on a big piece!

Elemental-0004
I used this process for this handflame prop. You can find the short tutorial to make your own here!

You will need:
iDyePoly by Jacquard (THE POLY IS THE IMPORTANT PART!)
A dye-safe container (I use disposable foil trays. Do NOT use a pot you will cook in!)
Tongs, chopsticks, or something to grab your pieces with (that you won’t use for food again!)
A stove top
Paper Towel
Elemental-9200

Step one;
Hot water: Because I use foil trays and I don’t like dealing with them and high heat, I use a kettle to boil water first.
Since I was working with small pieces of dye, I only used half the package of the dye and did not use the intensifier for the yellow and red pieces, saving that for later. For the most intense effect, always use the whole package and intensifier.
I empty the dye into the container, then add the hot water from the kettle and stir to dissolve. I add just enough hot water to cover my pieces.
(Seriously, do not use any tools that will end up with food later!)

Step two:
Once the dye is dissolved, I add my TranspArt and make sure it’s fully submerged (or up to where I want it dyed)

If dying Friendly Plastic, I keep my pellets spread out inside a strainer.

Note: Transpart’s activation point is higher than boiling water, but it still gets very soft. I found the shaped pieces I added drooped significantly, but did not become completely flat. If you were dying something like a dome, or a simple curved visor, you will probably have to reshape it – still the best idea if you want the highest concentration of colour.
If you don’t mind a loss of some colour, you can dye your transpart first, and then shape it.

Note 2: It’s not very easy to use this method to get an even, predictable gradient. If you need a perfectly smooth shift between colours over a certain area, you will probably have to do a lot of dipping and shifting of the plastic/babysit the piece for a solid 20 minutes or more. An airbrush might be your best bet at that point, with the loss of visibility taken into account.

Step 3:
Keep your water hot. I turned my stove on to medium-low.

Elemental-9148
The Friendly Plastic went into a metal strainer to keep them together (right)

Step 4:
Leave your plastic alone, coming to stir and shift the water every 5 minutes or so, flipping your plastic over or shaking up the pellets in your strainer. The longer your plastic is in the dye bath, the more dye there is, and using the included intensifier – these will all help give you the deepest colour possible.

Step 5:
Remove, rinse, and wipe down with paper towel.

You’re done! You can play with overdying, gradients, light tints and heavy colours – the possibilities are endless, especially when you then layer different shades of TranspArt together!

Results!


From left to right: Friendly Plastic 20 minutes in iDyePoly Red
Pre-shaped transpart pieces 20 minutes in iDyePoly Red
Pre-shaped transpart ‘flame’ 10 minutes iDyePoly red (sat bottom first with top exposed) then 10 minutes iDyePoly yellow submerged
 
Elemental-9154
Left: Preshaped flame (very ‘droopy’ 20 minutes in red (base) 10 minutes in yellow (top only). Following same as above.
 
Elemental-9153
Left to right: Sanded TranspArt 20 minutes iDyePoly yellow
TranspArt 20 minutes iDyePoly yellow
Sanded TranspArt 10 minutes iDyePoly yellow then 10 minutes iDyePoly red (half)
 
Elemental-9152

Left to right: TranspArt 20 minutes iDyePoly yellow
TranspArt 10 minutes iDyePoly yellow 10 minutes iDyePoly red (half)
TranspArt 10 minutes iDyePoly yellow 10 minutes iDyePoly red
 
Elemental-8504
Previous test results left to right: Tintex brand yellow 1 hour
Blue iDyePoly with intensifier 1 hour. Both of these started in hot water that was allowed to cool.
Right: Resin dye folded into center of TranspArt.

Elemental-9198 Elemental-9197

Sanded Transpart: If you want a somewhat frosted look to your TranspArt, it’s absolutely possible to sand your pieces with fine-grit sandpaper first and then dye them. It gives a very slightly deeper colour compared to un-sanded TranspArt.

 

Notes for DecoArt or Friendly Plastic:
It’s much easier to dye your pellets instead of dying finished pieces, and try to keep your pellets spread thin in a layer on your strainer, rather than clumped together.

Pellets evenly dyed and then shaped
Great if you need to add coloured, smooth, raised details onto TranspArt surfaces!

 

While the plastic takes dye wonderfully, it’s easy for it to miss some of the pellets, or dye them a bit unevenly if they’re grouped together – which can lead to white pellets in your finished product.

Friendly Plastic dyed ‘clumped’ together (see first dyed sample pic above) and then shaped into a mould. Undyed/unmelted pellets from the center stay white and hard.
The front’s a bit better…

 

The dyed plastic gives a mottled, swirled effect when a light is shone behind it. I think it could be totally useful for some styles of gems, especially as it allows for a lot more light to pass through than just painting the plastic with acrylics or spray paint would!

On the other hand, I REALLY like this effect. (A red LED was used)

Elemental-9184

 

Intensity after shaping:

Elemental-9190 Elemental-9191 Elemental-9195
Elemental-9193

iDyePoly maintains a surprising amount of colour depth after the TranspArt is shaped/stretched. This piece was almost doubled in length, but the colour stayed even (didn’t get straky or splotchy) and is only a bit lighter in the center.
 

Final thoughts
The amount of colour the TranspArt will pick up depends on the length of time it spends in the water and how much dye is used. The intensifier can help make the colour stronger, but deeper colours (blues, reds) will take more noticeably than yellow or orange.
Friendly Plastic takes the actual colour very well, but can be tricky to dye evenly, and is best used for small batches and small projects.

And remember to always, ALWAYS test your plastic before you work on a big project! Some dyes can have surprising results!

Tags: ,