Thursday, 12 June 2014

FOG Tuesday - On Your “Marker”, Get Set and Colour!

For the final FOG Tuesday, before we resume in September, we experimented with dyeing on silk with Sharpie™ Markers and rubbing alcohol.  The silk scarves were purchased from Dharma Trading and are a nice quality scarf with hand rolled hems, though apparently those will soon be long gone replaced with machine sewn hems.

I digress – it started out as a Sharpie marker event, but the Bic Mark It® markers were on sale at Staples for $5 per pack of 12, so several tried those along with Copic™ Markers, Prismacolor™ Markers and several more that I can’t remember. Each had its own properties that seemed to work better for different effects. Some colours seemed to work more effectively with some brands and some markers like the Copic have a wider range of colours. Broad tip, medium tip and fine tip markers each had their uses on the projects. However, the most important similarity was that they are all alcohol based markers.

Now the rubbing alcohol. Who knew that rubbing alcohol had an expiry date? Hands up. I certainly did not. Rubbing alcohol comes in a variety of strengths depending on the manufacturer – 70%, 90% and 99%. The higher concentrations seemed to work better in most cases and it did seem that the fresher the rubbing alcohol the better. We used it both in spray bottles and in eye droppers for different effects.

Tim Holtz Blending Solution
on raw silk.
The Tim Holtz Blending Solution® also worked very well, but would be very expensive to use for larger pieces or for a classroom project. 

We didn’t limit our experimentation to the silk scarves, but tried all types of paper – Sumi paper, handmade papers, coffee filters;  fabric – cotton, raw silk, this strange man made polypropylene fabric I had just picked up, polyester ribbon and cotton quilt batting; ceramic tiles and some other odds and sods.

Most of the techniques we tried were direct application of the marker to the paper or fabric and the two main methods of application of the alcohol were direct spraying and a targeted drop with an eye dropper.

Rubber Stamp Impression
Dots on that strange
man made fibre.

One neat method of application was to colour a rubber stamp with the marker, spray it with alcohol and then apply to the paper/fabric. You could also get a second ghost print from the same application.

Another method was to put marker dots in a circle (one or more circles of dots) and a larger dot in the centre and then apply the alcohol to the centre dot with an eye dropper.

Once your project is dry you should heat set the silk and cotton with an iron.

Siri and her scarf,
before and after
We’re saying Good Bye to one of our FOG members. Siri has been in Calgary for a couple of years and is now returning home. Here she is with her silk scarf, before and after. We have enjoyed having her in the group and hope she stays in touch.

Top L. Detail of scarf, Top Middle and R, before and after.
Bottom L, after spraying, Middle and R. before and after
Just a safety note, we did have good ventilation in the room we were in and were not overly bothered by the smell of the alcohol markers or alcohol, however, that may be a consideration for your experiments at home or in a large group.

Finer weave, high thread count, white cotton.
Medium weight unbleached muslin.


  1. An expiry date. That would explain a lot!!! :O

  2. LOL, yes, I was surprised too! Now I need to look for the 99% at Shoppers.