Thursday, February 11, 2016

Second Thursday Tutorial: working with Sharpies

It's the second Thursday of the month, and time for my monthly tutorial.  This is not the post I originally intended for today, but fate intervened and kept me from sharing what I originally planned.  In fact, I misplaced one of the tools I planned to use, so it was a lost cause from the beginning.

So today, my second Thursday tutorial for February is all about showing ways you can use Sharpies.  I know I've said that anything you can do with paper, you can do with fabric, and vise versa, but that simply doesn't seem to be the case with this technique, although I'm sure someone will eventually prove me wrong when they have paper that is far better than anything I've ever purchased.  Remember, please, you'll be able to easily find this post on my tutorials page under "Sharpie Play on Fabric."

Supplies (from back clockwise):

Empty plastic container
Rubber band large enough to go around diameter of container
Black Sharpies, various sizes
Isopropyl alcohol, otherwise known as rubbing alcohol  (I used 91% because it's what I have, but it comes in 50% and 70%, too)
Colored Sharpies lined up in ROY G BIV configuration
Torn mostly cotton bed sheets (your sizes will depend on what you are making)

Using a single thickness of bed sheet (or fabric of your choice), place it around your chosen container and smooth.

Check the back and make sure the rubber band has not slipped.  If it has, reinforce it 

and, holding the rubber band in place, smooth fabric until it's taut.

Decide on a design you want to create with your Sharpies, and choose your first color.

Add a second color.  Note how they interact with each other.  I suggest keeping warm colors with warm and cool with cool so you don't end up with mud.

Add as many colors as you like until you are happy with the color of your design.  Are we having fun, yet?  If you like to doodle, sketch, or draw, this will be a LOT of fun for you.

Now it's time to get out a pipette or an eye dropper.  I got this at my local craft store (Mrs. O'Leary's), but I suspect they can be found anywhere crafts are sold.  If not, you can always use an eye dropper.  If you don't have an eye dropper, you can use a plastic straw.

Dip your pipette or eye dropper in the alcohol and

release it slowly over the fabric.   If you release the alcohol too quickly, it will leave a white spot where you've removed all the Sharpie ink.  Allow the alcohol time to dry,

then remove the fabric from the container.  Note how as it dries, the alcohol continues to spread and much of the definition of the flower has been lost, while the Sharpie colors continue to diffuse into each other.  Isn't this exciting?  It is for this non-artist.

Now it's time to move the fabric and start again.  I'm sure I don't need to remind you of the steps, but this time

you might want to choose a different layout, even though you are using the same colors as before.  Remember, the alcohol picks up Sharpie colors at a different rate and intensity.  So, experiment and have fun.

Note how the yellow Sharpies diffused more, but didn't interact with the red and oranges as easily.

Note the distinct difference between the two flowers now that the alcohol has dried.

I decided to use my broken heart mug (the other end has a big chunk out of it) to wrap my fabric around.

It's OK to capture some of the previously colored fabric, because the ink will continue to diffuse once there is more alcohol applied.

This time I used primarily red, orange, and purple Sharpie colors.

More alcohol, and you can see I released too much alcohol too quickly in one area of the purple heart.

Three different flowers, three different looks, one technique.  Once the heart shaped flower had dried, I thought it looked a bit like a pansy.  I was also impressed with the way the flowers seemed to overlap one another, thus adding a bit of depth.

I thought the two larger flowers needed a bit more definition, so I used the red Sharpie on the now completely dried flower on the left, and a black Micron ink pen on the right.  Remember, Sharpies aren't affected by water, only alcohol. 

This non-artist just created three flowers I can be proud of.  I will tear the fabric to match the piece I will work on in the future.

Not content with flowers, I DOUBLED a piece of fabric (same mostly cotton bed sheet)

and went to town drawing lines on the front of the fabric.   I used more colors in my arsenal than before when I made the flowers.

Note that some of the Sharpie color will bleed through to the back side, so be sure your work surface is completely covered with a craft sheet, plastic bag, or the container you used before.

Turn the fabric back so that the front is again showing

and drop alcohol on the double sided fabric.

Note that the colors won't be as intense on this (back) side.   I was surprised I got the rings on the fabric from the container, but thought it was a pleasant surprise.

In order to speed the drying process, I replaced the plastic container with a Viva paper towel (kitchen towel).

I kept turning the fabric over and over, pressing slightly (yes, my fingers got really colorful)

until the fabric no longer left ink on the towel.  Even though the circles were obvious on the towel, because I "smooshed" the two sides of the fabric together, the circles were lost on the back side of the fabric.

I don't know about you, but this looks like a serape, the brightly colored blanket-like shawl worn by people in Mexico.  Can't you just see using this side in a southwestern or possibly Cinco de Mayo spread?  I'm sure you'll find a use for the back, lighter side, too.

I was so happy with what I had made, including the flowers, possible serape, possible lovely background for a fabric collage, and some wowser towel backgrounds, too.

Thanks for joining me for my 2nd Thursday of each month tutorial, where today I played with Sharpies and fabric.  And thanks for your support of my experiments.  Your visit means the world to me.

EDIT: My friend Debbie (Craftymoose) asked about washing the fabric.  Since only alcohol affects the design, I thought washing might be possible.  Although I will never wash my art quilts or altered projects, I went to the "authorities" on the subject.  Sharpie experts recommend first running the fabric through your dryer, or heat setting with an iron before washing for the first time.  Then they recommend ONLY hand washing after that.  However, they also warn that Sharpies will fade over time when washed.  Be aware Sharpie painted fabric is not archival, either.  So, if you don't plan to wash your fabric, or only hand once occasionally, the answer is "It's probably OK!!"

22 thoughtful remarks:

Helen said...

thanks for the tutorial...have never used my sharpies on fabric; cool idea!

Valerie-Jael said...

Looks like you had big fun again with this tutorial. Great idea for making brightly coloured material for projects. That striped one really does look Mexican. Thanks for sharing your trade secrets! I told Y. you will get in touch with her soon. Have a nice day, hugs, Valerie

Craftymoose Crafts said...

This is really fantastic! I'm wondering if this can be washed & dried in a dryer without ruining the effect. It would make great fabric to use in a quilt! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial.

Caterina Giglio said...

How fun is that? and yes it does look like a serape and I love the spotted cloth above it, with the radiating circles, wonderful! x

Krisha said...

Great tutorial E!

I've played around with the same technique, even let the GDs give it a go......of course they threw all the colors together and got mud *grin*

I really like how the flowers turned out.

Jeanie said...

Well, theoretically I don't need to try one new technique when there are already so many only half mastered, but that never stopped me before! I've got to try this one. I wonder how it would work on a silk, like a scarf blank? I may have one of those I can fiddle with. I'm seeing so many possibilities here... could be trouble!

At least I have the supplies for this one! Thanks -- well informed, photographed and explained tutorial!

Divers and Sundry said...

This looks like a lot of fun, and sharpies aren't the least bit intimidating for me. Thx for this :)

Janet said...

I love coming here because you always have something new to try. I have a ton of Sharpies but have never used them like this. Now I have to start searching my linen closet for some old sheets I can tear up!

pearshapedcrafting said...

Wow! I just happen to have bought some Sharpies at a bargain price not so long back so I will find your tutorial very useful! Your flowers are spectacular! Hugs, Chrisx

Nan G said...

Wow! Very cool, Elizabeth!

Meggymay said...

Oh my, this is a fantastic tutorial, the results look fantastic. I don't have Sharpies but they seem an interesting pen.
Yvonne xx

Rita said...

Those turned out really great! Never would have thought of that. :)

My name is Erika. said...

Cool tutorial. What a fun technique. I think you can make some interesting and very organic effects on cloth. How fun would it be to combine it with some of your rusty cloth? Not the Sharpie on the rusty cloth, but like a patchwork-ish type of piece. Oh and before I forget, thanks for explaining a caucus to me. I lived in Maine eons ago but was a student and not registered voter so I never attended one. In Kansas can anyone go to the caucus? Hope your Thursday was a great day, I am finally home, but the good news is all my late school nights should be over the year! Hugs!

Blogoratti said...

Seems a great idea with an interesting process, many thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

You come up with the most amazing things. Hate the smell of alcohol though, so it's probably not for me. Never a dull moment in Elizabeth land. xox

Darla said...

A great tutorial. I've used sharpies on cloth but never with the alcohol. You got some very interesting results.

Linda Kunsman said...

I had no idea Sharpies were capable of this cool technique! It reminds me a bit of tie dying. Super results, and thanks for sharing!

Nancy said...

Thanks for the tutorial- very interesting play time! I'll be trying this.

froebelsternchen said...

AMAZING technique Elizabeth! Makes fantastic fabric for using in projects! Thanks a lot for sharing with us!

sheila 77 said...

How fascinating, all of it. First of all I was impressed by and interested in your collection of Sharpies (we all have various collections of art materials and I have no Sharpies at all .... yet). Then the flowers, three of them, each different. With alcohol!
Thanks for this, Elizabeth, and the many photographs which leave us in no doubt how to follow this process.

Carol said...

These are fun projects ! Something the girls would like to do on one of their visits .

Cindy McMath said...

Very cool Elizabeth! I have used alcohol ink on paper. It needs to be glossy (non porous) in order to be able to move around although when I see what you've done here I might try Sharpies on watercolour paper. I would probably use a spray bottle (since I do keep one clearly marked for alcohol). When I get home that is! Your flowers turned out great and I really love the stripes.