A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Acrylic Inks on Fabric

I am guest blogging here again and this time I am sharing my latest experiments with acrylic inks.  The company that makes these has a website here that provides more information than I needed.  Which is a good thing.  They're like regular acrylic (textile) paints, except much thinner.  And I think they act like they have more pigment then the acrylics I usually use.
I was able to find them locally at my favorite art store.  First, I made a chart.  I played around with mixing them here and discovered that the "primary set" I purchased didn't make a good purple.  So back downtown I went where I purchased Prussian Blue and two (!) purples (Purple Lake and Velvet Violet).  I also couldn't resist one Pearlescent -- Mazuma Gold.

First I played around with diluting them with water and brushing them on dry fabric.  I added some salt (kosher) to the wet paint for fun.  These inks blend very nicely.  And it takes a lot of water to dilute the color.     
This was done with full strength inks dropped on a palette and brushed on with a small paintbrush.  Both of these were a little stiff after drying, but I let it cure overnight and ironed to set them and they softened right up.  Not as soft as the Tsukineko inks, but much softer than regular acrylic paints.  And the pearlescent was fine here in a thin coat --it's in the center of the flower, the nest under the bird and the center of the paisley shape.

 These inks have droppers in the caps.  I think this is wonderful!  Instead of pouring out the inks onto the palette and getting ink all over the side of the jar or pouring out too much and wasting it, you can drop it onto the palette.  And there's no need to dip a wet brush into the jar and pollute the whole jar!

So I wet a piece of white cotton and crumpled it, then spread it out onto a paper bag.  I dropped inks onto the fabric and let them spread.

The only thing I didn't like about this was that the Pearlescent Gold cracked and peeled off after heat setting.  In their defense, the company says that the Pearlescents aren't designed to withstand high temps or washing.

I don't usually like pearlescent paints anyway, but I just could not resist the gold.  It's been so dark and dreary....

This is the bag that was under the fabric when I dropped on the paints.

And these are the parrots.  I painted them on dry fabric with brushes.  I had no trouble getting fine detail with a tiny brush and undiluted inks.  I did have trouble with inks spreading all over when I diluted them.  The background on this piece is a couple of tablespoons of water with two or three drops each of black and Velvet Violet.  The Velvet Violet isn't categorized as a pearlescent, but it does have some sparkle.  There is not much ink in the water, but it turned out very dark. And I had a lot of trouble with bleeding -- so I learned to keep the brush far away from my painted birds and wait for the ink to quit spreading.  I really like the mottled effect I got in the background. 


  1. Hi Karen,

    I really liked your post. I work with all kinds of inks and dyes. The inks you used look interesting. I looked up the website you linked to and found out there is a place near where I am going next weekend (Colchester, VT) in Burlington. I just may have to go take a look. Your parrots are wonderful.

  2. Thanks Rosalita! I hope you like them as much as I do.

  3. Karen, the parrots turned out beautiful and very expressive. The eyes are gorgeous, so this seems to be a good ink for the most part for fabric painting.
    It seems like all of them have their quirks, and it is odd that the pearlescent one flaked off. Must be a different composition...
    Great work! Really enjoyed this!


  4. LOVE those FW Inks!! Your parrots turned out great, I can just imagine how much extra depth you'll get when you add your quilting.
    I really enjoy seeing the piece progress. Thanks

  5. Woo HOo guess what I was planning to get out this weekend? Yepppppp those 2 huge boxes of inks that have traveled around the world twice now... and play a little. I think I am just going to close my eyes and play....

  6. Thanks for the introduction to these new inks. They look really vibrant. Your parrot piece is lovely.

  7. I love the parrot piece, as well as the one with dots on it. Thanks for showing these inks, they might be something I'd invest in sometime in the future.

  8. I just got my latest Quilting Arts magazine yesterday, there's an article by Judy Coates Perez on using these inks. Didn't get time to read it yet, though.

  9. These inks look very interesting. I'm especially intrigued by the watercolor effects possible. And parrots are brilliant!

    Have you thought of possibly using a resist like Presist or maybe soy wax to keep the background separate from the main subject areas? If the resist was put in place, then the background painted, then resist removed, you'd still be free to paint the parrots/main subject in those glorious colors and not have to worry about the background bleeding. I'm amazed at your wonderful control of the bleeding without using a barrier of any sort. Nice!

  10. I did use freezer paper ironed on where some of the parrots were going to be before I painted them. I couldn't wait until they were all done to play with the background (grin). It didn't work very well -- the diluted paint seeped right under it. I may not have ironed it on too well, or maybe it didn't work because of the wetness -- I won't bother with it again. I think it would be a really good idea to try Presist or soy wax.

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  12. I just read an article about these and it claimed they don't bleed onto the dry fabric surrounding, only blend with wet fabric. I thought "HotDog that's great"and just ordered them online.Hope they're as good as they sounded, but from your experience I'm wondering???

  13. Karen I have had great success with Judy Coates Perez' remedy to stop acrylic inks bleeding when painting--use pure Aloe Vera lotion as a medium. Here in Australia, I had to buy it in a health food store, but you can probably get it at the drug store. I think your parrot painting is awesome!


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