Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Seth's Buried Treasures (Shaving cream fabric: a tutorial)

I just learned that Seth at The Altered Page is having another edition of his famous Digging for Buried Treasure events. The last couple of times I joined this, I visited many wonderful altered artists, artists who think and make art like me. This post originally hit the internet airways on July 14, 2011. If you've been with me since then, or if you have read my tutorials, this will be old news. If you're a recent or new visitor, please enjoy. I have drug this out of the archives, shown the spotlight on it, and put it center stage. Thanks for visiting. Even though I made a couple of mistakes, it's still a good tutorial and produced a fabric surface technique I'm very proud of, especially since I have never seen it on the internet.

In case you're wondering, I'm # 42 on the list, so please check out the other artists. You'll be glad you did.

As promised, here is my tutorial and it is on dyeing fabric using dye based ink and shaving cream.

Materials and tools from upper left, clockwise:

Empty plastic containers
Credit or old hotel card
Shaving cream, inexpensive and not gel
Dye reinkers (I ended up not using these)
Distress reinkers
Stencils of your choice
Fabric of your choice, prepared for dyeing (please note I used part of an old bed sheet that I saturated with water)


Place a bit of shaving cream into a small plastic container. You need to use plastic instead of foam or paper containers, which will absorb the ink and dilute the color. I remember reading that somewhere years ago, but don't remember where. I just remember that you don't want to lose any ink to a paper or foam cup.

Once you have placed shaving cream in each of the cups, begin adding a few drops of dye based ink in each of the containers.

I used various distress inks, because the fabric I chose had previously been subjected to rust, but left a lot to be desired. Using the distress inks seemed like a good choice for a more vintage look I was sure I would accomplish.

I have found dye based ink, including the brand marked "distress ink," works best when using shaving cream. Although I have used pigment ink with shaving cream, I don't recommend it. Pigment ink is sticky and thicker than dye ink. It ends up making a mess on paper, so I would hate to think what it would do on fabric. Also, you don't want to add solvent based ink or embossing ink to shaving cream.

Once you have added your ink to the shaving cream, mix it as little or as much as you choose. Mix it a lot and the color will be the same throughout the cream. Mix it a little, and you will get mottled effects.

Lay your stencil in place, then spread the shaving cream and dye ink mix over it.

The big problem with these "vintage" style colors is the light colored ones seem to blend into the background. Perhaps if I try a darker color, it will help. Remember what I said about a mottled look?

Continue the previous steps until you have used all your shaving cream and dye ink mixtures.

Once complete, I laid the fabric out to dry and so I could take a photo. It was at this time I realized I should never have wet the fabric. What gave me that idea was you are supposed to wet fabric before dyeing it. However, when using shaving cream, you don't need to wet the fabric. So, do as I say and not as I did and don't wet your fabric before using this technique.

Shaving cream and dye ink dry very quickly, and don't need the fabric to be wet.

Use bright colors for this technique. The dull, drab, vintage-y colors that are prevalent with these distress inks, only blended into the fabric I was using.

You can see that some of the images were nearly lost due to the colors being so similar to the background.


1. I should never have wet the fabric. These inks spread around water as it is, and wetting the fabric only gave the ink a place to migrate.

2. Choose your ink colors carefully with your background in mind. Perhaps once the fabric has dried, some of the colors will show better.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the results, and if I've saved anyone from making my mistakes, it was well worth it. I hope you enjoyed this and I will add this link to my page of tutorials, so it is easy to find.

22 thoughtful remarks:

PeggyR said...

This sounds interesting. I've don it on paper, but never fabric.

Lunch Lady Jan said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I have to come clean and tell you that I've read your posts for a while now, ever since I started following Julia's blog. You always seem to do something interesting, though I did do a double take when I saw that shaving foam was involved!!! I think the teal greeny-blue is particularly effective. Best Wishes, L.L. Jan xx

Liverpool Lou (Anne) said...

Hi Elizabeth, I'd actually forgotten about the tutorial so was popping by for a visit anyway. I like that you write exactly what you've done and not edit out the mistakes beforehand I think it's such a help that people know what to avoid. The outcome is great anyway despite wetting the fabric.
Anne xx

~*~Patty S said...

Thank you for another great tut E!
There is always so much to learn by your creativity and sharing!
Hope you're getting some cooler temps...we had a nice storm blow through and the humidity is lower...ahhh that makes a nice difference...for a few days at least :)
Happy Thursday!

Sue said...

Hi hun
fab tutorial, boo boos n all, i wont wet the material! lol, thanks hun,sue,x

Terri Kahrs said...

Elizabeth, I ADORE your tutorials!!! Know why??? I truly appreciate your complete and thorough documentation of a particular technique -- successes and failures! Fair and balanced coverage!!! I'd never, ever thought of giving shaving cream a try with inks. Thank you!!! Hugs, Terri xoxo

Steph said...

Thanks for sharing this tutorial, E!!! you've inspired me to bring out the fabric and play.....

Little Button Girl said...

Loved that tutorial, will definately be using it, thanks. Lea x

Angie said...

This looks fun ...and I have some nice stencils ...around somewhere ...but I need to find a space where I can be really messy ...not my bedroom lol Thanks for the lesson.xx

Tuire Flemming said...

Thanks for a great tutorial - I thought the subject was a secret ;) I have never used shaving cream for printing...
Those lost-in-the-background prints are not bad either!
Tuire xx

peggy aplSEEDS said...

great tutorial, Elizabeth! i will always remember not to wet the fabric. i don't have any dye based inks so my hubby's shaving cream is safe for now. thanks for sharing!

Anne said...

Definitely going to give this a try , Elizabeth , thank you so much
Anne x

Dianne said...

excellent tutorial. if you want the letters to be more 'crisp' in a collage, you could always use a fine tip permanent marker to draw around the letter stencil, directly over the dry dyed fabric. you might like the effect. fun technique!

Pam McKnight said...

found your blog thru Seth's. Thanks for sharing technique, mistakes and all...I will remember not to wet the fabric after seeing what it does, rather than if you had just told us.

Anonymous said...

You always amaze me at what you create. Always fun tocome for a visit.

XX Rachel XX

Margaret said...

Great tutorial Elizabeth, shaving foam!! who would've thought?! I like the mixed results, the colours are fab. Mx

Craftymoose Crafts said...

I have cans of shaving cream just sitting in my garage waiting for me to try this technique. I'm going to experiment & try it with the same ink I used in my Flamingo Aceo--it's unlabeled, so I am not really sure what kind of ink it is!

I totally get that 90 degrees seems cool after 105! Any temp with less humidity makes me smile.

Healing Woman said...

I've never seen anything like this. What a novel idea..shaving cream. Your letters turned out more colorful that I expected they would. You are amazing Elizabeth.

Carolyn Dube said...

What a spark you have set off in my head with this repost! I have used shaving cream and ink before but not in this way- thanks for letting me see it in a whole other way!

see you there! said...

You did it again, created another great tutorial. Shaving cream and ink, who would have thought?


Raylee said...

i remember reading this tutorial.....will try it one day....soon, could work well on the bags that i make sometimes. thank you.

Ruth Armitage said...

I'm visiting from Seth's blog and enjoyed your tutorial very much! Thanks for sharing :)