Primary Tools & Materials:
BLEACH, LAUNDRY COLOR CATCHER SHEET
Additional Tools & Materials: washing machine, red hoodie, q-tips, glass pane, scanner, camera
This letter was pretty spontaneous. We washed a red hoodie for the first time and the laundry color catcher sheet that came out of the wash had the most color I had ever "caught." This thick, waxy paper has a rough fabric feel to it, and I wondered if something like rubbing alcohol would repel ink the way it had with watercolor paint. After looking at the remaining spots in my morphological chart, by some miracle there was actually a spot for this one - under the loose categories of "advanced paper and materials" and "ink."
While the sheet was still damp from the wash, I carefully tested a corner using a q-tip soaked with rubbing alcohol. I waited a few seconds, but nothing happened. My previous experience with paint and rubbing alcohol told me that if anything was going to happen, it would have happened immediately. Then I tried a laundry soap pen I happened to have on my desk (side note - you wouldn't believe the state of my desk right now), not expecting much. That didn't work either. So I poured myself a small cup of the only liquid I knew would work: bleach. Again, using my q-tip, I was able to quickly draw several letter Bs in different styles onto the roughly 9"x4" sheet. Immediately the color began to lift, gradually moving from bright red to magenta, to pale pink and finally to white. The result - in the largest, most saturated letter, at least (number 1) is an almost tie-died look, especially at the edges. In number 2, you can tell where I first touched the q-tip to the paper. You can also see brighter spots where I changed directions - at the top of the loop of the b's stem and again above the bowl. This is probably because I applied more pressure, paused, or slowed down momentarily while deciding where I wanted to draw the remainder of the shape. Images 7-9 show a few photos snapped of the same letter as the bleach slowly lightened the fabric. Bleaching completely to white took about five minutes, and often a little touchup with extra spots of bleach.
These letters can look fuzzy or even electrified at their edges. In number one the edges remind me of crystals or ice formations. They appear very organic and accidental. The letters are also very different in their weight and line quality; different amounts of bleach or pressure on the paper yielded different results. Less bleach on a damp q-tip produced neater strokes with sharper edges, like in images 2 (as the bleach wears off) and 5. More bleach on a completely saturated q-tip produced the ultra fuzzy edges you see in images 1, 3 and 4. I think the most interesting characteristic to include in any future type studies would be the contrast between the sharper strokes and the fuzzy ones - each letter ought to have at least some degree of contrast between the two.
Big thanks to my husband the engineer for (jokingly, I think) suggesting I use this sheet as a letter study tonight. I called his bluff, and it turned out to be pretty interesting! Thanks, you!