PDP Exclusives by Rebecca

Thursday, November 3, 2011

*painting* with bleach

Union Riveter Wenchkin is back today with a really cool way to "paint" on fabric, with bleach! This would be a fun technique to use after you practice on posterboard to use on pre-made totes, or things like placemats, or napkins. This would even bean easy technique for older kids or teens to play around with! (supervised, of course!)

This was a simple technique taught to me by Lina Gadhela Ashcroft.

What I will be using for this

  • household bleach
  • q tips, the bleach will eat everything it touches. It will eat a brush before you finish a piece. I have tried those shaped sponges but they are also a one shot deal. Do not use anything for this you do not plan to throw away after.
  • poster board, the kind you buy for science fairs, that are colored. BUT you have to look closely at the edges when you buy it and make sure the paper you buy is dyed all the way through not just a top coat of color. You can somewhat tell by looking at the edges and see if you see any white. If you do, put it down. This is not the paper you are looking for. You can use construction paper but the bleach rips into it and spreads very rapidly. To remedy that squeeze as much bleach out of the qtip before laying lines.
  • a sharpie, just to punch the piece out a bit more, and make it POP!

Speaking of the wrong poster board, this red is the bad stuff and here is why, after bleach is applied since the top coat is color on paper and not colored paper it just sits on the top making the paper wet. On dyed paper it soaks in and starts to bleach the color out.

So, I usually do skulls and I am going to stick to what I know since it will be easiest to show you how I build a piece using bleach. I start with the teeth from the top center two out then then bottom, then I give it a jaw line. Since I always use qtips for this I keep that width in mind as a brush when I do this. The teeth are just a single short line the regular size of the qtip.

eye sockets

top of skull

fill everything I want lightened

center of eyes and outline

I am going to make a border of bones so I start with a series of slashes

then I simply stab the end of each dash twice with the qtip

throw an outline around the whole bone border

Now when you do long lines you will see the intensity of the bleach in the line fade. I do all my lines twice but the second time I start at the opposite end.

adding in some rays in the background

Now I let it dry then go back in again and punch back out anything that is not bleached out enough for me. You can layer the effects with it quite easily.

Then I took out my sharpie, outlined all my bleach lines and there you have it

The skull may not be your forte but it is more for you to go out and think about working from black up. It is frustrating because once you have drawn a bad line you are screwed, there is no unbleaching it so it is also a good lesson in letting it go, experimenting and just creating for the pure enjoyment of it.

Wenchkin is the amazing artist behind Wenchcraft, the Art of Wenchkin. You can find her on Google+, on Facebook, or you can shop her ArtFire shop! She currently resides in Albuquerque with artist Scott Krichau, and their tripod Jack Russell "P."


  1. One of my fave ways to paint. Also looks awesome on fabric, although timing is key if you don't want it to start eating and weakening it!

  2. my first bleach clothing experiment was total fail for that same reason rocky

  3. Same! I quickly learned that you dunk it in water before you've even finished the last detail.