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.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Trying Ink on Fabric--Quilter Beth

I received my inks and have played with them a little bit. I haven’t had the best of luck with the projects, though. This first picture is of a character I thought I might “paint” with the inks and aloe gel after I saw Karen Silver's dragon. I didn’t get good color—the black turned out way too gray. (It is more gray in person than in this picture.) I didn’t bother to use any other colors of ink on this piece. I also could not control the bleeding (wicking) of the ink beyond the lines. I thought I might need to add more aloe to control the bleeding; but when I did that, the color got more pastel. I will be finishing this piece with textile paints (which I find MUCH easier to work with).
This is a picture of a fabric softener dryer sheet onto which I brushed some inks. The sheet did not hold up well to the friction of the brush; it tended to beard.
Last, I thought I’d try making some background fabrics and fabrics onto which I could add some layers. I wasn’t real pleased with those either. On the first one, I used “Potion No. 9” which is a product that is supposed to allow the inks to blend (like watercolors). It is Tsukineko's ink blending solution. It can be used with any water-based ink. The product says it is supposed to encourage migration of the ink. I sprayed the “Potion” over the entire fabric and found it didn’t do much. I then concentrated on one area (right-hand side) and sprayed it a bit heavier, which worked a little better. I also tried spraying the piece after I sponged on the inks…again, with little success. I ended up using an entire travel-sized bottle on this one piece. (The orange is a previous layer that had been screened on in my Jane Dunnewold class and is made with tempera paint.)
On the other pieces, I watered the inks down a little and sponged them onto the fabric. I also experimented with the inks and shaving cream. You can see my little shaving cream experiments on the right-hand side of the bottom picture. I also tried painting small sections of each piece with ink and aloe gel; and in some places, I dipped the Fantastix applicators into the ink and brushed on some ink. I was just experimenting to see what would happen.

 I have some other ideas about things to try...now, if only I could find the time...


  1. I wonder why your black came out grey. What kind of fabric were you using? Was it washed?

    The Fantastix are neat for making controlled lines, but I've found them frustrating for doing larger areas or for quickly laying in color.

    Hmmm, I'm thinking of a few things to try now that I've looked at what you've been doing! Keep experimenting!

  2. While reading about the attempts to blend the inks ala watercolor, I wondered if the fabric was damp or dry when you applied the inks? Also, did you have it stretched in any way (i.e. pinned to a work surface or taped down)?
    As for spreading the ink to resemble water color, I have had some success with rubbing alcohol... I seem to recall I applied with an eyedropper, but I'll bet using a spray bottle would work as well. However, I was using it on designs I drew on fabric with sharpies... could work differently with your inks, but might be worth a try!

  3. It appears that you have really given inks a fair trial. I am so glad that you posted your results, regardless of how "successful" they were.

  4. Regarding the spreading aloe/ink mixture -- how thick was the aloe gel you used? Mine was very thick and came in a tube (I got it at Walgreens drugs). As for the lightness of the color -- yes -- I noticed that too. I mixed more black ink into the very thick gel to get a good black. Also -- maybe the ink is not sticking to the fabric for the reasons Kathleen suggested.

    I am glad you tried the Ink Potion -- I bought a small (very expensive) bottle of it and I found it didn't do much either. So it wasn't just me...

  5. I used a tube of (what i consider to be) thick clear aloe gel (Jason Everyday Natural Care--Aloe Vera 98% Moisterizing Gel). I tried adding more black ink to it to get a more intense color, but it did get runny then. I used both brushes and Fantastix applicators--wasn't thrilled with either. I, too, thought the "Potion" solution was very expensive, didn't go very far, and wasn't effective on fabric. I used PFD fabric for the character drawing, so I don't really think the problem is the fabric. I think it must be the gel--or me!

  6. I forgot to answer tiedyejudy's question about the fabric. The fabric was damp with the "Potion" spray. I was afraid water would decrease the effectiveness of that product. On the other pieces, the fabric was dry. If I get a chance, I'll try it again with damp/wet fabric. I can see where that might help the migration of the ink.


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