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Playing with bleach

You probably know that if you use bleach on black cloth, you're often left with unexpected colors.  You can use diluted bleach in a spray bottle, household cleaners with bleach, or the newer bleach gel pens.  Whatever form you choose, it's always  fun to see what pops up.

Mostly when I've used bleach on black, I end up with tan or rust, or at least some sort of brown.  But I recently found a piece of fabric that had a purple base to the dye.  How cool is that?  The fabulous Jane Dunnewold suggests that when you go shopping for cloth, you take a bleach pen with you.  Beg for a small sample or buy a small swatch and go out to your car to test it.  Then go back and buy the ones with the best colors!

Anyway, I decided to try a shadow technique with my current piece of cloth.  Here's how I did it.  Warning: both bleach and the neutralizing solution create hazardous fumes, and are irritating to eyes and skin.  Take all precautions when using them, including eye protection and terrific ventilation.  Preferably, do this outdoors. 

1. Lay out the shapes that you want to use for resists.  I used leaves, but you can use freezer paper pieces that you iron on, stencils, or shapes of any type.  I didn't adhere my leaves at all, because I wanted a sort of sort edge to the bleaching.  Spray around the leaves with diluted bleach. 

2. Allow the color to develop as you desire.  The best way to stop and neutralize the action of the bleach is to use an Antichlor solution.  In the absence of this, make sure you rinse the fabric really really well.  If you don't neutralize it properly, you may find that as the years go by, the fabric continues to change or deteriorate slowly.  Allow the fabric to air and dry completely before going on to the next step, even if you are going to paint the fabric wet. 

3. Apply paint as you desire, either dry or wet.  I used my leaves (which I kept floating in a bowl of water overnight while the fabric dried), and applied acrylic paints to the front sides to use them as stamps.  I offset the stamp slightly from the protected black portion of fabric to create a shadow effect.    

4. The finished fabric.  What to do with it now?

Copyright 2010 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.


liniecat said…
Great effect..........what to do with it now?
Well you could send it to
Cyndi L said…
Well, that would be one idea... :-D
Theresa Plas said…
Beautiful Cyndi! I'd just stare at it for a few days:)
Cyndi L said…
Thanks Theresa! I'm sure something will eventually come to me :-)
Magda said…
Fantastic effect!
Limarea said…
Wow, that's really beautiful! Love the shadow effect! You will surely come up with something fantastic to do with it, and then you must show us! :D
Cyndi L said…
LOL! Thanks guys :-) Limar, you have my promise on that.