I've been wanting to try bleach printing for ages and I'm here to report that it's so easy and super fun! It's actually the reverse of printing in that it removes pigment instead of adding it, but it's the same basic concept in that you can create a pattern on fabric.
From the research I did before getting started, I found out that it works best on blue fabric (on black fabric the bleach can only remove some of the pigment and you are left with a pink or orange negative print instead of white).
In this Instructable I'll give you the basics that you need to create your own custom 'reverse' print/pattern!
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Step 1: Supplies
- laundry grade bleach (I used Clorox)
- dark fabric (natural fibers only)
- flat bottomed glass or ceramic dish
- latex gloves
- masking tape
- 3 pencils with eraser ends
- two angled erasers (like pictured)
- pencil sharpener
- white chalk
*optional: pencil with cap eraser
- cardboard (to tape fabric to)
Step 2: Making Your Stamps
Erasers make great stamps! I left some as is (the two angle erasers and the cap eraser) and customized two of the pencil's erasers using the pencil sharpener so that I ended up with two smaller sized circles, three total including one un-sharpened eraser.
Step 3: Prepping Your Fabric
Tape your fabric onto the cardboard. If your fabric piece is too big to do this, print it in sections by folding the fabric over the cardboard and clipping the fabric securely to the cardboard edges with binder clips.
If your cardboard is cupping at all (not laying flat), tape it down to your work surface so your not stamping on a springy surface.
Step 4: My Chevron Print
I wanted to try a chunky chevron print using the two angled erasers. I used chalk to rough out the lines the print would follow. (*Note: The chalk will wash out and will not interfere with the printing!)
Step 5: Stamping Technique
1. Choose an area to work in that is well ventilated. (For safety info regarding bleach, see the bottle's label.)
2. Put on your latex gloves. This will protect your skin from any splashes. I would also recommend wearing an apron or old clothes just in case there are any flying bleach molecules.
3. Pour a very small amount of bleach into your flat bottomed container. You want the bottom surface JUST wet = not much depth to the bleach.
4. Place the stamp side of your chosen eraser down in the bleach.
5. Remove excess bleach by scraping the stamp bottom along the edge of your container. This is an important step! If you don't do this, you will not get a crisp outline. You can see in my finished chevron print that I got better and better at this as the print went on. (I ended up liking the mix of soft and hard lines!)
6. Place the stamp down onto the fabric and press firmly.
7. DON'T flip your eraser to use both sides to make the chevron, use two separate erasers so you don't get bleach all over your gloves.
Step 6: My Galaxy Print
For my Galaxy print, I used the pencil erasers in all three sizes, in a random pattern. I drew a chalk box around the edge as a stamping boundary.
Step 7: Sun Setting
Once you're done stamping, put the prints in the sun for 1 hour. This will help with the bleaching process.
When the hour's up, remove the fabric from the cardboard.
Step 8: Wash and Go!
To stop the bleaching process, hand wash the fabric in a bit of laundry detergent and water. Once this is done, you can safely add the fabric in with other articles in a regular wash/dry cycle.
FYI: I put the Galaxy print onto one of the Instructable napkins I sewed last week. For that how-to, click here!