Sometimes Failure Is An Option

We all love to hear success stories, so the duds tend to get shoved to the back of the closet and forgotten, metaphorically speaking. However, I want to tell you about a failure in hopes someone out there has tried this technique and succeeded.

The technique involves cloth, fabric paint, and rubbing alcohol; and is supposed to produce cool effects of spreading circles. At least that’s what happened in Betty Busby’s video.

I gathered the simple supplies – fabric paint, rubbing alcohol, Q-tips, and scraps of silk.  You put a dot of paint on the fabric and touch the center with an alcohol dipped Q-tip. The paint is supposed to spread out from that center like ripples from a stone dropped in water. Here’s my first result. Not quite like Betty’s. This is after spraying the whole thing with alcohol. It bears a distinct resemblance to a paintball target.

IMG_7281I thought I should investigate more videos and found some where 91% rubbing alcohol was touted as the secret ingredient. Usual rubbing alcohol is 70%. All right! I thought, and purchased the stronger stuff.

More failure. The results were even worse with no spreading of the paint, possibly because I used cotton, not silk fabric.

Back to YouTube. I got sidetracked by videos of rubbing alcohol used on drawings done with Sharpie markers. I had that cup of alcohol and a bunch of Q-tips already laid out, so why not try it.

Alcohol on SharpiesThe blobs of color underneath the marker lines are my attempts with the 91% alcohol.

Then, I decided to see if I could get a blurry line around shapes on an old printing experiment. I outlined the leaves with a brown marker and then went over the lines with a Q-tip dipped in alcohol.

Sharpies on PrintI like the shadowy effect I got, and may try it on other made fabrics.

So, Betty may be holding back the real secret ingredient, or I may simply not have used the right fabric, or the paint was too thick/thin, or …


Filed under Techniques

11 responses to “Sometimes Failure Is An Option

  1. I have been having a similar experience with a piece I am working on to practice surface design and free motion quilting. We will see if I can salvage it enough to post about it. Maybe after some time goes by and I can bravely face it again….

  2. Pingback: Trying Some Dyeing – Deep in the Heart of Textiles

  3. Ann Scott

    Did you try wetting the fabric with water? I use this technique often (usually on fine cotton) and I always wet the fabric but not with alcohol. Much of the fun is in the exploration and I think so called “duds” can always be redeemed!

    • I don’t think I tried water to wet the fabric. Silly me, I was trying to follow what Betty did in the video. And duds are no big deal as I’m sure I’ll dump some paint/dye, etc., on top of what I’ve done. If nothing else, I can put the duds under cloth I’m painting to sop up excess.

  4. I may try the marker/alcohol method, so thanks for showing. If it doesn’t work, you can always switch to your preferred type of alcohol to drink. It won’t make the fabric results better, but you might not care as much.

    • YouTube has lots of videos that show ways to use markers and alcohol. One I recall decorated silk scarves that way. And some red wine does help blot out the memory of failure, plus it turns items you’re rusting interesting colors.

  5. How frustrating! I do like your gingko leaves one, though – and I laughed at your comment of the first one looking like a paintball target! Was your fabric wet or dry to start with – would that have made a difference?

  6. Dear me–some of those are really unfortunate! But I like the direction you’re moving with the gingko leaves and love your willingness to talk about the failed attempts!

    • One good thing about working with fabric is you can always print/paint on top of the failures. The ginkgo leaf piece began as a hand dye and then I printed over that twice. Maybe after two more go rounds it will look good.

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