Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dying Fabric with Sharpie Pens and Alcohol

I have previously drawn onto fabric with Sharpie pens and found the color to be quite durable; however I was never exactly happy with the lines bleeding, no matter how light a hand was used in applying the ink.

This morning I ran across a few on-line video clips wherein people sprayed Sharpie ink drawn images with rubbing alcohol and took advantage of the bleeding.

As chance would have it, there was a 12" square of white muslin sitting on my worktable and it was just begging to be used.

Design elements drawn onto fabric with Sharpie markers
and then sprayed with rubbing alcohol
The extracted element at the top right consisted of the first pen
markings.  Even though I didn't like the result of that area, I
continued to make repetitive floral markings.

After the alcohol sprayed Sharpie ink was dry, the
petal shapes were loosely outlined with black pigment ink to
add dimension.
When using this process, it is important to first lay the fabric on a waterproof surface.  At first I laid the fabric on paper towels and this was a mistake.  The colors ran beautifully onto the paper towels but not onto the fabric.  When I  repeated the process with the  fabric laying on a piece of glass (the shiny side of freezer paper would work just as well), then the colors blended on the fabric  and produced a more painterly look.

These are the times I wish I had not approached the experiment with reckless abandon and just started laying down pen lines.  I really like 3/4 of the piece but that upper right hand corner ruins the whole thing--at least  according to my sensibilities.  Ah, but there is always a next time.


  1. Like your experiment. Ethereal, dreamy, perfect for a summer day.

    1. Dear Anonymous,
      Thank you for your kind remarks. "Ethereal" and "dreamy"...I like that idea. Dreaming is good for the soul. I believe I will try this process again but will think it out ahead of time instead of starting with random markings.

  2. Linda-Love the ethereal effect that this technique produced. I'm looking forward to seeing how to develop this technique in future posts.

  3. That is very cool looking! I am going to try it myself!
    Eileen Wintemute

    1. Eileen, Glad you enjoyed this. It's fun to see what happens when the alcohol works its wonders.

  4. I'm inthralled, thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Try this on can buy plain white silk scarves from Dharma Trading Company on line for $3.00....................this technique makes wonderful designs on the silk!