Vibrant bursts of color turn groovy radial designs using this little permanent marker trick on any cotton fabric item. Think t-shirts, wall hangings, tea towels. This method is a treasure trove of gifting ideas as well as an easy group activity!
Go grab a (mostly) white t-shirt from the closet, some Sharpies, turn on the tunes, and get ready to make!
Gather the “stuff”….
The supply list for this craft is relatively small. You need cotton fabric. We tried a t-shirt, a cotton kitchen hand towel, and a cotton pillowcase. In the past when I’ve done this with classes they worked on hemmed pieces of cloth also know as handkerchiefs. If you’re working with a classroom size group of kids these packs of twelve handkerchiefs are as affordable as they get!
You also need some small-ish plastic cups, rubber bands, permanent markers, and rubbing alcohol (straight outta’ the bathroom.)
Grab these awesome set of Sharpies in tons of colors. Even if you have small children Sharpies are such a handy art tool. Teach your kids how to use them. They can handle it!
Place a cup inside your garment so that the fabric is stretched over the top of the cup. Secure with a rubber bands.
Use markers to make a simple design with plenty of white space remaining. I repeat the simple part here. Really all you need is dots and dashes.
If your kiddo takes their time and draws a beautiful design that they’re super proud of they may be disappointed when the next step comes along because any details will be lost!
Just add alcohol….
Use an eye dropper or a paint brush to drip plain rubbing alcohol onto your permanent marker design.
This part is like magic. My kids (and me) never get tried of watching this.
When the alcohol first hits the fabric it looks like the project was a bust. Nothing happens.
Then, after a few seconds, it starts. Colors begin to move and mix, following the alcohol. The more alcohol you drip the more movement you see.
Permanent marker out of control…
Just because the fabric is stretched around the cup and you created a design in the shape of the top of the cup does not mean that is where your design will stay!
The design will stay in the shape of a circle but it will migrate right down the fabric, creating a much larger circle than the cup.
Prepare your kids for the slightly unpredictable but beautiful bursts of color!
But is it really “permanent”….
Permanent marker is generally permanent only on the clothes that you don’t want it to be. Hahaha, just kidding.
We set our marker by ironing it on the “high” setting. I then threw it in the washer and dried on the high heat setting. The colors were just as bright as when it went into the dryer.
In the interest of full disclosure I washed the pieces with nothing else in the load, just in case. The t-shirt had a couple of very faint marks where the colored marker had transferred onto the white part. To me, it was nothing worth being excited about, barely noticeable. But be aware that this is art and art is rarely perfect or totally predictable!