Bleach Printing on Fabric 

Does bleach scare you? It scares me!

Now that to you were brave enough to get past the title of this post, I’m excited to tell you about my adventures dyeing fabric with bleach. The effect is similar to the Japanese shibori technique, where you dye white fabric with indigo dye, only in reverse. I haven’t tried shibori yet, because just as I was scared of making everything white with the bleach, I’m scared of making everything blue…

Materials:

  • Fabric: I used dark blue fabrics that I had in the house. Denim is great because it bleaches to a true white, and it is thick, so it absorbs the bleach without spreading too far. The other navy fabric that I used bleached to a pink color, and the bleach spread a lot, which made the designs look different. I think both effects are interesting, but the denim is definitely easier to control. If you use another type of fabric, I recommend testing a small area to see what color it bleaches to – hint, it might not be white!
  • Bleach: I used both regular liquid bleach and also tried bleach gel pens.
  • Tools for applying bleach: glass jars, “spouncer” (round sponge stamper), old pencil
  • Hydrogen peroxide to neutralize bleach. I’m not sure this is totally necessary, but I read that other people used it, and I didn’t want to mess around with bleach (remember, I’m scared!)

Techniques:

I tried a few different ways of applying the bleach, and they all create unique effects.

  • Large and small stamped spots
  • Rings
  • Drawing with bleach gel pens

Large and small stamped spots: I made these with the spouncer and the back of an old pencil, dipped in a shallow bowl of bleach

Stamped rings: I made these using the rims of glass jars dipped in a shallow bowl of bleach. Once I got the hang of it, I worked with several jars at a time, so I could let each one sit for a a few seconds.

img_3940

Drawing with bleach pens: I only tried a little of this. I was impressed with how clearly the designs came out, and I need to put some more thought into how to use this technique. I think it would be good on the non-denim fabrics, since those absorb so much bleach. Although it feels scary to use the pens (there I go again), because the bleach gel is very thick, it is definitely not as strong as the pure liquid bleach. I recommend letting it sit for several minutes before washing off with the hydrogen peroxide.


What am I going to do with all these new prints and designs? I am planning some throw cushions for our family room and my bedroom. I’d like to mix and match some of the patterns for a bohemian feel. I look forward to sharing them with you!

“Jewels”

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