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Alcohol / Sharpie Marker Dyeing, Part 1

Last year about this time I went to visit my fiber friend. We’ve been friends a long time and have a great time whenever we get together. The last day together my friend pulled out her alcohol inks and we dyed together. Really!

I played with her sharpie markers a while, trying to scientifically observe how the alcohol ink changed with the application of rubbing alcohol. It was interesting to see how the dye moved or didn’t. But that wasn’t enough fun. We moved onto more abstract methods of applying the ink.

My fiber friend dripped the alcohol ink across a disposable plastic tablecloth. She placed a (previously prepared) square of white fabric onto the ink. She sprayed rubbing alcohol onto the fabric. She carefully picked up the fabric and pinned it to a clothesline. (Did I mention we were doing this in her garage? No dyeing in the house!) During this process sometimes she added more ink, sometimes spraying it with more alcohol. She repeated this a few times, cleaning off the plastic between each design. Then I had an idea!

The next time she did the aforementioned (don’t you like that word?) process, I quickly placed an undyed piece of fabric in the left-over ink, soaking it up. The fabric immediately went to the clothesline as is, no further changes. In the photo 1a shows what my fiber friend’s fabric looked like after hanging out. 1b shows my fabric – for some reason I remember that I did the second pass of all of the fabrics.

All the other pieces of fabric followed the same process, but with one exception. Before I removed the fabric from the ink I sprayed it with alcohol to move the dye around a bit. In the photo the fabrics marked 2a and 2b show the changes we made in the fabric. I think the 2b fabric looks a little like Funfetti frosting.

We followed the same procedure for the next two fabrics (3 and 4), adding ink or more rubbing alcohol. By the time we got around to doing it a fifth time we were running out of prepared fabric squares. So I took some cotton yarn and dyed that in the leftover ink. When the fabric was dry we ironed it to try and fix the color as best as we could. I took the photo with my cell phone, not realizing it was being recorded for posterity – I would have done a better job had I known.


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