Embellish fabric with ease!
If you can color with crayons, you can use Paintstiks on Fabric! Learn everything you need to know, from basic information about paintstiks, to detailed instructions that will enable you to transform ordinary pieces of fabric into unique works of art.
Paintstiks on Fabric: Simple Techniques, Fantastic Results is the definitive guide for adding color, texture and images to fabric with Shiva Artist’s Paintstiks.
This comprehensive guide offers:
- Five techniques for adding paintstik color to fabric, including rubbing, stenciling, and masking applications
- Easy-to-follow instructions with step-by-step photographs
- Answers to the most common questions about paintstiks
- Complete procedures for preparation, heat setting, and cleanup
- Dozens of color photographs for inspiration
Your imagination and a few simple tools are all you need to create fabulous fabric. Shelly Stokes supplies the recipes. What are you waiting for?
Basic Paintstik Instructions
Use these basic instructions while you are waiting for your copy of Paintstiks on Fabric to arrive! Shop owners and instructors are welcome to share these basic instructions with their students and customers.
Click on the image to download the PDF or click on the topics below.
You can use almost any type of fabric with paintstiks, including cotton, rayon, linen, silk and synthetic fibers. You will find that stenciling and other masking techniques work on many fabrics including heavy fabrics, but rubbings are limited to lighter weight fabrics. Heavily textured fabrics will not react the same as smooth fabrics, but that does not mean you can’t use them – just don’t expect the same results.
Prewash your fabric to remove any sizing. Use plain detergent. Avoid products that contain fabric softeners or bleach additives.
One thing to watch for – fabrics that are treated to be “stain-resistant” may also be “paint-resistant!” This is especially important if you are working with pre-made table linens, as many have special coatings. Always check labels and do a test before you begin a big project.
Shiva Paintstiks are “self-sealing,” which means that a protective film forms over the surface of the paintstik when it is not in use. To remove the film, you can peel it away with a paper towel, rub it gently on a rough surface, or carefully pare it away with a knife.
Preparing to paint
A smooth work surface is helpful when working with paintstiks. Any texture placed under your fabric will show through as you apply paint to your fabric. You may wish to cover your work area with plastic to keep your work surface free from stray paint.
Paintstik colors are permanent once they are dry. Wear old clothes or use an apron to prevent accidental “enhancements” to your wardrobe.
Fabric tends to move as you apply color. You may find it helpful to tape your fabric to your work surface to prevent shifting while you are working.
Applying paintstik color to fabric
There are several ways to apply paintstik color to your fabric, including direct application, masking, rubbing, and stenciling.
Direct Application: You can apply paintstik colors directly to fabric as if you were coloring with a crayon. Once the colors are applied, you may wish to use an old toothbrush or a stiff stenciling brush to smooth and blend the colors.
Rubbing: Place a textured object under your fabric. Then work with the paintstik directly on the fabric. As you rub the paintstik across the fabric, an image of the textured item under the fabric will appear. It is not necessary to press hard when making a rubbing – a light touch is helpful to get a clean image.
Stenciling: Unless you are cutting stencils from freezer paper, you will want to apply the paintstik color with a stencil brush instead of using the paintstik directly over a stencil. (Direct application will cause a lot of paint build-up around the edges of the stencil, and generally create a mess.)
Rub the paintstik color on a separate “palette” surface. Load the paint onto a stencil brush. Place your stencil on top of your fabric, and apply the paint through the openings in the stencil. It often works better to use a circular “scrubbing” motion than an up-and-down stippling motion. Add multiple layers of paint to get a solid image.
Masking: Use masking tape, paper, or any other material to cover areas of your fabric while you apply the paint. For example, lay a grid of masking tape down on your fabric. Apply paintstik color directly or using a brush, then peel up the tape to expose the grid on your fabric.
Paintstik colors are easily removed from your tools and brushes with standard or citrus-based solvents. With a little bit of extra work, they can be cleaned with soap and water.
Making the color permanent
After applying paintstik color, allow the painted fabric to dry for 3-5 days, and then heat-set to make the colors permanent.
To heat-set the color, set your iron to the proper setting for the fabric. Place an old piece of fabric or muslin on your ironing surface, put the fabric paint-side down on the muslin and press for 10-15 seconds in each spot. The muslin should absorb any excess oil that remains in the paint.
Warning: If you have not allowed sufficient drying time, you will drive oil into the muslin and probably into your ironing surface. If you must heat-set your paints before they are completely dry, put a piece of greaseproof paper (such as parchment paper) over your ironing surface to prevent staining.
More on Paintstik Chemistry
A Paintstik Chemistry Lesson
Occasionally, someone raises questions regarding the safety of using an oil-based paint product directly on fabric. A brief discussion of this issue is included in the Paintstiks on Fabric book. This page provides additional information. If you still have questions about the chemical properties of paintstiks, please send a message and I will attempt to find an answer for you.
Shiva Paintstiks are oil paint in a solid form. They are not crayons, oil pastels or soft pastels. Paintstiks are made of durable pigments blended with highly refined drying oils and wax solidified into a stick form resembling an oversized crayon. They are wrapped in a heavy cardboard tube that makes them easy to handle, help keep your hands clean, and prevent the warmth of your hands from softening the paintstiks as you work.
Paintstiks were originally developed as an alternative form of oil paints for fine artists, but creative people quickly discovered that they could be used on almost any surface with a porous or matte finish. Since their introduction to the market in the 1960s, paintstiks have been used on wood, fabric, metal, plastics, walls and floors as well as canvas and other artist’s materials.
Shiva Paintstiks (also known as Markal Paintstiks outside the United States) are the only paintstik product that I recommend for use directly on fabric. To understand why, let’s take a look at a few technical details.
Shiva Paintstiks are often lumped into an art material category called “oil bars,” but it’s not a fair classification. After much discussion with chemists, product representatives and other artists, I have come to the following understanding about oil bars and paintstiks.
The typical oil bar contains a high percentage of linseed oil. If you apply these products directly to fabric or paper, an oil “halo” will appear. These products can take a considerable period of time (weeks or months) to dry. The high volume of linseed oil, which is typically very acidic, along with the long drying time make oil bars unsuitable for use on fabric or canvas unless some type of primer has been applied. The degradation to fabric exposed to oil bars and other oil paints may take years or decades to show up, but the manufacturers do not recommend using these products on unprimed fabrics.
Shiva Paintstiks, on the other hand, are unique. Paintstiks contain linseed oil, but the oil is refined in a manner that makes it less acidic. In addition, the percentage of oil in a paintstik is much lower than the typical oil bar. You will not get an oily halo effect when you apply paintstik color directly to fabric or paper. (Note: According to a chemist at the manufacturer, all linseed oil, regardless of how it is refined, contains a small amount of “free acid.” Therefore, paintstiks are not an “acid free” product.)
Paintstiks have a very fast dry time when compared to oil paints and oil bars. Paintstik colors typically dry in 3-5 days when applied to fabric. (Allow 7 days for heavy applications of paint.) Heat setting the paint accelerates drying cycle and completes the polymerization process that occurs as the paint dries. The short drying cycle means that your fabric is exposed to linseed oil for a relatively short period of time, reducing the opportunity for any acid present to harm the fabric.
After heat setting, a gentle washing will remove any chemical residue from the drying process. After it is washed, your fabric should be back to its original form, with the addition of the wonderful color and patterns you added with your paintstiks.
Although the manufacturer has not done extensive aging tests to analyze the long-term effects of paintstiks on fabric, Shiva paintstiks have been used on a variety of materials, including fabric since the mid-1960s. They have proven extremely stable, lightfast and washable when used according to the instructions.
Warning: Do not dry clean fabrics embellished with paintstiks. The dry cleaning solvents will break down the paints.
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