Hey little birds! Do you want something fun and simple to do on a rainy day, by yourself or with your kids? Let’s talk about sharpies and alcohol. Grab a bottle of isopropyl (70-90%), a glass of wine (or two), paint brushes, a white shirt or a blank canvas, and a box of sharpies. Optional supplies are rubber bands and sobriety.
I recommend getting a BUNCH of sharpies, and getting a ton of fun colors. One box I picked up the 80s Glam sharpies, because it had some rad purples that I loved.
I have no idea if they still sell these. You should get them if you find them, though. MM THEM COLORS.
I also recommend getting a BIG thing of Isopropyl alcohol. BIG. You’ll use a lot. And if you don’t use it all, you can use it to clean any head wounds you get in your drunken state dancing wildly to 80s club music.
You can use a spoon or an eyedropper to dispense alcohol. Or your fingers. Really, you just want to be able to get some good drips.
Now, really, once you start mixing ink and alcohol, the possibilities are endless. One of my favorite things I did was make “tie-dye” shirts with one of my kids I was babysitting.
The tying in this is strictly optional, since you can do it a few ways. Here’s what we did:
Cover your work space with butcher’s paper or cloth you don’t care about or SOMETHING. This stuff gets MESSY! I would also recommend wearing aprons or clothes you don’t care about since sharpie is hard to get out of fabric. You can wear gloves as well, but we didn’t have problems with washing our hands.
We colored in circles with the sharpies all over the shirts, using different colors all over. We made sure only some circles overlapped, while others stayed far away from each other (hint: colors that blend well together, like blue and green, look great when colored close… don’t put opposite colors next to each other like green and red or orange and blue. They’ll blend and look brown)
We took our isopropyl alcohol and dripped it all over the shirts. You may wanna crack a window open or have a fan blowing because it can smell STRONG.
You can draw in a science lesson with this (SCIENCE AND ART ARE FACETS ON A GIANT GEM WE CALL THE UNIVERSE!) and talk about how some inks are water soluble while others are alcohol soluble and how the ink in the sharpies are actually made up of a mixture of different dyes that can be separated with alcohol, meaning their alcohol soluble, and it dissolves and separates the ink. This isn’t a step, but I thought it was important.
Watch as the ink separates and spreads over your shirts, giving it a soft, watercolor-y look (like in the pictures!)
If you want more colors, let the alcohol dry, color some more, and use some more alcohol. Dripping it works best, but if you want to experiment I would recommend picking one of your circles of color, twisting it like you would in tie-dye and wrapping a rubber band around it, then dipping it into the alcohol. Turn it to the tip facing up and let the alcohol spread down into the shirt. Let it dry a little and then unwrap (you can see where we did this on my little’s shirt near the neck).
When your shirt is satisfactorily covered in color, let the alcohol dry, and then throw the shirt into the DRYER. Dryer FIRST. Roast that sucker on high for 45-60 minutes.
Take out the shirt then wash it as normal (ALONE. Only wash with other shirts you may have been making, but otherwise, BY ITSELF. Maybe dark colors. Like black.)
TA DAAAAAAA! You have a sweet “tie-dye” shirt!
Next on the list is…
Sharpie Canvas Background
If you have frisket or white acrylic paint, this is going to be a fun thing to do to get a galaxy canvas, or if you’re working in acrylics, this is a fun way to get a unique background for your next piece (I don’t recommend this for watercolor artist). You will need to get preferably a small canvas, but a big one will also work. If you’re using frisket, make sure you use a frisket brush…
Like this. I’ve talked about it this kind of brush on my Facebook page, but I really recommend you get one if you are a watercolor artist. Frisket is the best. It’s also called masking fluid, and it lets you get beautiful, white whites, while this brush can help you to get lovely, delicate, thin white lines… without ruining any other brushes. The “brush” is a little rubbery nub that lets the dried masking fluid come off without issue. GET ONE.
Frisket goes down on the canvas before you start coloring. To get a starry sky effect, drip your brush in frisket, then take another brush or your finger, and tap your frisket brush over the canvas on the other bru sh stick or your finger. It looks kinda like this:
Now we can go ahead with the sharpie attack…
Like with the shirt, make sure you have a covered work space, and clothes you don’t care about or an apron on. Crack a window or turn on a fan.
Color on your canvas in circles or blocks, leaving a little bit of white between colors. Be careful about what colors you put next to each other, as previously mentioned. You can be more loose
Take your alcohol and drip it or paint it over the sharpie. Since the canvas is fabric, like the shirt, it should seep and spread out.
Let the alcohol dry. Repeat 2 and 3 as needed.
You can put a lot or a little alcohol on. If you used enough that it runs over the canvas, pick up your canvas and tip it to get cool drips and swirls.
After the alcohol has dried, if you used frisket, go ahead and rub it off using an eraser (probably not your hands just in case the ink gets all over you).
If you’re using acrylic paints, use the method I described for splattering the frisket, but instead with white acrylic paint that has been watered down a little. You can also dip your brush into the white paint and scrape your thumb across the bristles close to the paper for a similar effect.
Once the canvas has dried, you might spray some fixative on it (do this OUTSIDE), but otherwise, you’re done! You can paint on top of your starry canvas or over your unique background!
Similar steps can be used for ceramic tiles, ceramic mugs, or clear drinking or wine glasses.
IF you want to make the mugs or glasses, get a dish washer safe sealant. Mod Podge will work for this. Before using alcohol and ink on the mugs and glasses, make sure you wash and dry them thorough, then wipe all over with a thin layer of alcohol first, and let it dry. Then you can color on the bottom or wherever with your sharpies, and take a brush dipped in alcohol to paint over it and get drips or splatters. You have to work quickly since the alcohol dries fast. I would also try to get the ink spread by blowing on it, either with your breath or using a straw or can of air. Allow the ink to dry when you have a satisfactory result, and then apply 1-2 coats of the sealant. You’ll get some cool results! I’ll show you mine when I try it out ;)