Fiber Arts | Hunter Museum of American Art 7.0.33-0+deb9u12

Fiber Arts

Using household items, you can make a t–shirt, mask, or other cotton item into a beautiful work of art.

Note: This project uses household bleach and should be done outdoors. For those not comfortable using bleach, we encourage you to try one of the many other Virtual Hunter activities on this site instead.



Applying bleach onto fabric with a spray bottle
  1. Fill a sink or large bowl with water and fully submerge the fabric in it. Then wring out the excess water.
  2. Take your cloth items outside and lay them on a towel you don’t mind getting bleached.
  3. Prepare your cloth for bleach patterns. There are many ways to do this:
    – Scrunch fabric up and create lots of wrinkles and crinkles. This technique works great for t-shirts.
    – Choose different areas of the fabric to pull up and tie off with rubber bands, or scrunch up the fabric long ways and add rubber bands around it. There are lots of design options with rubber bands, so just get creative with this one.
    – Pinch the center of the fabric and twist into a spiral for a tie dye swirl pattern.
    – Or simply fold fabric into different patterns.
  4. Put on rubber gloves and pour bleach into a spray bottle. Spray bleach all over the fabric. This can be done multiple times, but leave 5-10 minutes between applications.
    – This is the longest color change process because the material is not getting as saturated with bleach. Color change may not be visible for 30-60 minutes. And multiple rounds of spraying may be required, depending on your fabric.
  5. Once you see color change and like the design you’ve created, you can rinse the item with a hose or in the sink. After it dries, wash it separately in a washing machine.


Drawing with bleach pens directly onto fabric
  1. Bring your cotton item outdoors and place it on cardboard or on an old towel to prevent accidental transfer of bleach anywhere other than where you are drawing.
  2. Put on gloves and practice gently squeezing the bleach pen to familiarize yourself with it on a piece of scrap paper. Remember: Once bleach gel touches the fabric it will begin to lift color– you can not “erase” a mark once it is made!
  3. Draw a design, pattern or write words onto your fabric with the gel pen. Watch as the color begins to change.
  4. Once color has been lifted (2-5 minutes) immediately wash off the excess gel completely. Then, wash fabric on its own in a washing machine to stop the bleaching process.

Share your creations @huntermuseum

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The Hunter is your community art museum. We strive to be accessible to as many people as possible. Your unrestricted, 100% tax-deductible gift to the Annual Fund supports our commitment to giving free admission to:

- All children age 17 and under
- Active military and their families
- Families who attend our “Family Fun Days” offered three times a year
- All visitors on the first Thursday evening of each month


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