Make a terrifying T-shirt

13 10 2009

Audrey, the Museum Programs Coordinator, just showed me a cool way to transform a regular T-shirt into a TERRIFYING T-shirt with just Sharpies and rubbing alcohol.

Terrifying T-shirt!

What you need:

-A T-shirt to decorate (colors show up best on light-colored shirts)

-Sharpies of various color

-Rubbing alcohol

-Pipette, eye dropper, or spoon to distribute the rubbing alcohol

-Cardboard that can fit inside your T-shirt

bloody knife wound

Put the cardboard inside the shirt so the colors don’t bleed through the fabric. Then begin drawing designs on your shirt. Use the pipette or other tool to drop small amounts of rubbing alcohol on the desgins. The rubbing alcohol makes the ink spread out in a circle. Sometimes the inks in one color separate, like the yellow coming out of the green ink in the picture below.

tentacle and scar

Once you’re done dripping the alcohol, let the shirt dry for 10-15 minutes before popping it in the dryer so the design sets. You can then add more embellishments on your designs afterward. Audrew made a creepy eyeball, a monster tentacle, and bloody scar out of her designs! 

creepy eyeball

Why does the ink do that?

Permanent marker ink is soluble in rubbing alcohol. Soluble is how you describe a substance if it dissolves in a liquid. For instance, salt dissolves in water so salt is soluble in water. Permanent marker ink, however, is not soluble in water. That’s why if you put water on your T-shirt drawings, the ink wouldn’t spread out like it does with rubbing alcohol.

Experiment with different colors and observe what happens with some colors, but not others. For instance, the color green is made up of yellow and blue. The rubbing alcohol brought out the yellow from the green. Does this work with other colors too?




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