Thursday, 23 August 2012

Playing with Inktense Pencils

Last month the Waverley Art Quilters decided to experiment with paints and pencils on fabric.
My last post showed my painting results.

I drew a few flower shapes onto 3 different types of fabric, a fine white fabric that had been pre-washed, an unwashed calico and a pre-washed calico .
I  coloured the flowers in with Inktense Pencils. They behave like any other pencil when applied to fabric but when water or textile medium is added to them they become very vibrant. These watercolour pencils are supposedly safe to use on fabric and are permanent when set.

I had heard that once water is applied to them and they are set with an iron the colour would be colourfast. The only way to find out for sure was to test it myself.

Once I had coloured in the flowers. I painted one with water, one with Jo Sonya's Textile Medium, one with 50/50 Textile Medium/Water and I left another flower untouched with no medium or water.
When the fabric was dry I heat set them with a hot iron.
Pre washed fabric

You can see from the photo above that the flower in the top left that was painted over with water ran terribly and I also had a little bleeding with the 50/50 combination in the bottom right corner. The flower in the top right was treated with textile medium and there was no bleeding at all.
I was really surprised by this because I was testing to see if the pencils were colourfast after washing not if the pencils were going to run when water was applied to it. I didn't use a lot of water when painting over the flower.

The next fabric I used was an unwashed Calico.
Unwashed Calico
There was no bleeding with the unwashed Calico with the water or the textile medium. I had heard that there was less danger of paints and pencils bleeding on unwashed fabric and this was certainly true in this test.
But then I wondered if it was just a property of calico, so I coloured in a flower on pre-washed calico and painted half with water and half with textile medium to see if there was a difference.

There was bleeding with the half that had been painted with water.
This proved that fabric needed to be unwashed to prevent bleeding with the water.

 I hand washed the fabric in cold water, rubbing slightly.
After washing-white fabric

Here is a photo of the white fabric before it was washed to make it easier to compare the colours.

Before washing-white fabric

After washing the previously unwashed calico, I had similar results. The flower treated with the  textile medium was much more stable and brighter.

After washing- unwashed calico

Here is the first photo of the calico before washing to make the comparison easier.
Unwashed calico before washing

It is harder see to see the difference in the photos but the flower treated with textile medium stayed the same and the flower treated with water washed out a bit more.There was still colour in the water treated flower but the flower treated with textile medium retained its vibrancy.
The flower in the bottom left corner that had not been treated with water or textile medium had faded considerably.

I actually decided to repeat these tests to see if I got the same results and I did.

My results are that Inktense pencils must be treated with Textile medium to become permanent. The fabric still remained fairly soft because I only painted the textile medium very lightly.

I don't agree with the argument that an art quilt hanging on the wall will not be washed. When quilts are being judged at Quilt Shows, the quilts in each section are laid on top of each other. It would be a disaster if the colour from a quilt rubbed onto someone else's quilt.
I often block my quilts with water and I wouldn't like to have any unhappy accidents with the pencils bleeding.
Mind you, I don't intend to be making quilts using pencils anyway, paint is much quicker and with greater impact  but there are times when subtle shading is needed and  a pencil may be just the right thing.

Bye for now,


MarneyMay said...

Hi Linda
After reading your post I think I will give fabric painting a try. I have both Derwint and Faber Castle watercolour pencils along with fabric medium. So far I have not been brave enough to use them. Thanks for your post


MarneyMay said...

Hi Linda
After reading your post I think I will give fabric painting a try. I have both Derwint and Faber Castle watercolour pencils along with fabric medium. So far I have not been brave enough to use them. Thanks for your post


MarneyMay said...

Hi linda sorry about the double post. My computer is playing up. I have tried to remove one but it is not happening


Linda Steele said...

Have fun with the pencils, Pauline. I think we all need encouragement to try the things we buy sometimes.Don't worry about the double post, I'd rather have two than none!

Frances Clements Fawcett said...

I'm hooked on your surface design testing posts Linda! Thanks for the thorough review of Inktense pencils - I love these for their vivid eye popping colors, but have been wary of using them on any serious fiber art project because of wash-fastness issues.
I'll hunt around for the Jo Sonya medium that you refer to.

cheers from PT!

Lorraine said...

Thank you for this Linda. I've heard about the Inktense but to date have not given them a try. After reading your experiments, think I will have to do so.

Lisa Chin said...

Thanks for the comparison and showing all your results. I love inktense pencils on paper and haven't tried them on fabric yet but thanks to your testing I will save myself some grief and make sure I use textile medium with them. :D

Linda Steele said...

It's certainly worth giving them a try Lisa. You don't need to put on very much textile medium, just a light brush.

Linda Steele said...

Give the Inktense a try if you have them, Lorraine, but they are quite expensive, so wait until they are on special.

Linda Steele said...

Hi Frances, any brand of Textile medium will do, I just happened to have the Jo Sonya brand handy.

Fran C said...

Hi Linda, I have used the Intense Pencils on quilts. I paint the fabric first with the Textile medium and colour over the top of the damp medium. I use a textile medium I bought from Riot Art. I also mix the medium with paints when I use these on art work.

Linda Steele said...

Thanks Fran, I have heard of people doing it that way. I must give it a go.


Frances Clements Fawcett said...

Excellent tips all - I'll go hunt down textile medium at my favorite place in the US: Dharma Trading Company. : ) Frances

Linda Steele said...

Frances, I have bought products from Dharma trading online. They are a wonderful store, I wish I had one close by to visit.

ann said...

Thanks Linda,
I bought the pencils because I thought they were permanent after using them wet, letting them dry and then ironed. I did a white knit top which fades every time I wash it. This is proving to be a BIG waste of time and money for me. I so appreciate seeing all of the comparison tests that you did. I actually have better luck with 'regular' colored pencils on a soy milk treated fabric. Unfortunately, the soy milk is a mess to make. Guess I'll just keep experimenting.

Linda Steele said...

I agree Ann, that's one of the reasons I did the experiments, I wasn't sure whether the pencils would fade or not. Textile medium seems to be the answer. I have heard about the soy milk before and it sounds interesting, but because you say it's messy I probably won't be trying it soon!

ChezRose said...

Thanks so much for your comparisons - this has saved me a lot of work!

Linda Steele said...

Thank you Rose, glad it could be of help.

Anonymous said...

I use clear aloe vera gel purchased at Walmart as the moistening agent after coloring on washed high thread-count muslin (JoAnn Fabrics Premium LS muslin). LS stands for Legacy Studio. There is no bleeding. Let dry or iron dry with a pressing cloth. Put in pan with small amount of water. Rub with finger tip pads to remove gel. A small amount of color comes off with the gel, but it does not really show a change of color. Dry or iron dry. Add more color if needed.

K said...

Very helpful! Thanks.

Linda Steele said...

Thanks Lisa