Monday, May 29, 2017

Coloring fabric with permanent markers and alcohol

For my last few posts, I thought I would give you a glimpse of some fabrics I have colored using a technique that has been around for a long time – but one I struggled with when I first started experimenting with it.  Basically, it is using permanent marking pens and high grade Isoprophyl alcohol. 

Here are a few examples of my earliest experiments on cotton:



These were fun, but I did not know they needed to be heat set before washing, and they ended up fading quite a bit.  So I put the technique aside, even though I was still very interested in learning how to use it.  Happily, I have since revisited this technique on muslin, rayon and cotton jersey and silk, and I found that heat setting will keep the colors from fading when I wash them out!

Some time ago, I found a couple of tutorials by Carol R Eaton. Carol is a great dyer and she shares many of her techniques on her blog carolreatondesigns.blogspot.com.  I visit her blog regularly, and was intrigued by her tutorials on using permanent markers and alcohol on silk.  Here is one I decided to try: http://carolreatondesigns.blogspot.com/2014/10/silk-sharpies-alcohol-yum.html.  This one caught my interest because she used empty containers to stretch the silk over, banding it in place, before she applied the markers and alcohol. But I just wasn’t ready yet to try this technique, so I filed it in the back of my mind for future reference.

That all came back this past month – I joined a group on Facebook that discusses painting with alcohol inks… close to the same thing, although I didn’t see any references to the markers, and I also did not see any examples of using the inks on silk.  So I did some searching on-line, viewed a couple of videos, then I went back to Carol’s tutorial.  Here are some of the results:

The scarf above was my first – I drew lines across the scarf, and large dots.  I tried doing it with the scarf folded in fourths, hoping the marker would go through the layers, but ended up having to go over the lines when I unfolded the scarf.  Then I used a pipette to drizzle the alcohol over the markings.  Smelly!  Best to have your work area well-ventilated.  Once the alcohol dried, I used my iron set to about a polyester setting to heat-set the ink, then washed the next day to remove the alcohol residue.  It came out far better than I thought it would!  It looked pretty crummy with just the marks on it, but totally transformed with the alcohol… magic!
I decided to try Carol’s method for the next scarf.  I have a large number of empty dye containers in a couple of sizes, so I placed several under the scarf, and secured with rubber bands:


Then I drew dots on the scarf with Deep blue, turquoise and lime green.  Next I applied the alcohol, and waited until the alcohol dried.  Then I removed the bands, heat set the ink, repositioned the containers, re-banded them, and drew some more dots.  This was repeated several times until the scarf was fairly well covered, leaving some white for contrast.
I really love how this one turned out, so on to the next one!  I did try an experiment with one of my Habotai silk scarves, but the colors I used were not great, so I rinsed the marks out as much as I could – more about Habotai a little later.
So, back to the blues & green, and I added purple on the next one.  I started out using the same process as the one above, but then added some free form markings too.

Well, I’m totally hooked on these for sure! 
So I went back to the Habotai scarf, just to play around and see how it compares with chiffon:


First experiment – I drew dots across the scarf which was stretched and banded over an empty container, then drizzled with alcohol.  I realized I didn’t need nearly as much alcohol as I had used, so on to the next experiment:


Here, I drew dots on one portion and a squiggle on another portion;

Still too much alcohol – pretty much obliterated the pattern.

Another “drawing”, but this time I used a q-tip to apply alcohol:


I think I’m gaining on it here!  Less is better with Habotai!

So what I am learning is to experiment, try different methods, and don’t give up!
I have ordered some Alcohol Inks, but just received them, so that will have to wait for another time.  But I am very pleased I overcame some of my earlier struggles with the markers and alcohol, and hope you try this… the colors you will get are fantastic!  By the way, if you want to give this a try, you can buy the scarves at Dharma Trading Co. www.dharmatrading.com.  I get the alcohol (usually 91% or higher) at my local pharmacy, and the markers are at craft stores, office supply stores, or online.  Let me know if you give this a try!





1 comment:

  1. I've done this with my granddaughter using sharpie markers, we both had fun with it!

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