Sharpie Pen Tie Dye

Sharpie Pen Tie Dye

Some of my kids' favorite art supplies are Sharpie markers. I can totally understand--the colors are so vibrant and fun. Of course, they do always make me a little nervous with the PERMANENT aspect and all (especially in a house with a 20-month old who is eager to get his hands on everything!) But I was excited to find a project that we could do together with these beautiful colors and learn something new about the cool properties of permanent markers.

3 - 9
Est. Time:
<1 hour

How we did it:

Materials List

  1. rubbing alcohol
  2. squeeze bottle
  3. permanent markers (e.g., sharpies)
  4. plastic cups
  5. rubber bands
  6. fabric to dye
  1. Gather your supplies. I had some old, white napkins lying around that we used for the fabric.

  2. Place your fabric tautly over the cup and secure it with a rubber band (this is the area you will be decorating).

  3. Make about size dots of ink from one marker in a circle pattern about the size of a quarter, and then fill in the circle with dots using other colored markers.

  4. Then slowly drop about 20 drops of alcohol in the center of the pattern. (Note: if you are using a squeeze bottle, as I did, you may need to place your thumb over the end so it doesn't come out too fast.) You'll see the molecules of ink spread outward to the rim of the glass from the center. If your kid has used different colors, it does actually turn out like a rainbow!

  5. We let the pattern dry for a few minutes, then moved the napkin to decorate another area.

  6. Look at this peacock-inspired design!

  7. After you're all done decorating, you'll need to set the colors by placing your fabric in the dryer for about 15 minutes. The Sharpie markers contain permanent ink, which will not wash away with water. Permanent ink is hydrophobic, meaning it is not soluble in water. However, the molecules of ink are soluble in another solvent called rubbing alcohol. This solvent carries the different colors of ink with it as it spreads in a circular pattern from the center of the shirt. So maybe I can rest a little easier when my kids are playing with the Sharpies, as long as I have rubbing alcohol around! The finished product is a colorful napkin--one that I think my son will be proud to take in his lunchbox to school!