Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sharpie “Dyes”

The nice thing about going through a period where I’m not feeling creative is that I can finally get around to those techniques I’ve been wanting to try. In this case, it was coloring fabric with Sharpie markers. Sharpies will typically not run with water, but they will run with alcohol. For these pieces, I colored the fabric with Sharpies, then spritzed with alcohol until the colors ran together and colored the white fabric. After the pieces dried (alcohol dries very quickly), I heat-set the colors with a hot, dry iron.

I like this technique. I’ve been trying to figure out if there are advantages to it over other techniques I already use, and here’s what I’ve concluded:

  • The effect is very similar to Dyna-Flow paints, but the advantage is that Sharpie markers allow drawing onto the fabric.
  • Tsukineko inks would give me control and allow me to draw onto the fabric, and to get a similar color effect, but spritzing the inks with water to make the colors mix dilutes them quite a bit.
  • Painting dyes onto fabric would give a similar effect, but that doesn’t allow quite as much control as markers, and my Procion MX dyes won’t work on synthetic fabrics, while Sharpie markers will.

So, here are the results:


The above piece is dupioni silk, colored with yellow, red, and orange Sharpies; while it was still wet, I added a little purple color here and there.


The above piece is Habotai silk. The picture shows a little more separation in the colors than you can see in person, but you can tell that much of the original drawing (the spirals) is retained on the habotai. I used a lot of alcohol to get the color to blend, and it was very wet, so I took a piece of cotton muslin and laid it over the silk to absorb some of the color:


The following piece is a synthetic fabric (taffeta); I stamped it with white acrylic paint and, when the paint dried, colored around it with yellow, red, green, and purple Sharpies. The colors blended particularly well on this fabric:

If you have some colored Sharpies lying around, try this technique; it’s fun!


TracyB said...

What a GREAT idea, I've never heard of doing this, but will have to give it a try and LOVE the fact that it will work on synthetics. Being an MX dyer, synthetics is a dirty word in my house :)

Debbie Bates said...

Thanks for showing your experiments... I have been wanting to do this since Spring Market where I saw it demo'd at the Design Originals booth (I think that the author has a whole book on it). Great results,

Anonymous said...

These turned out great! I definitely want to try this. Thanks for sharing your experiences with Sharpies.

Jeanne Turner McBrayer said...

Very cool!