Watercolour pencils and textile medium – a happy marriage

26 07 2015

In the Aug/Sept 2015 issue of Quilting Arts magazine was a description of a fabric painting technique that used watercolour pencils (or sticks) plus a textile medium to intensify and set the colour. It looked interesting, so I decided to try it. I was really pleased with how it turned out.

I outlined some basic flowers using a permanent thin black fabric marker on some plain white Kona cotton. For the red flower I only used my Derwent Inktense watercolour pencils to colour the petals, then painted on textile medium (Folk Art Textile Medium ‘Plaid’ 794 [http://www.plaidonline.com/folkart-mediums-textile-medium-2-oz/56/794/product.htm]), keeping within the lines. Immediately it was added, the red intensified, and there was no bleeding outside where I’d painted the medium.

I needed to test it with other colours — both a small distance from each other and blended — to see if the textile medium would ‘run’ the colours into each other. It didn’t. I also needed to test how well just water would do with the watercolour pencils on the fabric — there’s no point in paying for textile medium if water out of the tap works just as well!

Below is a photo of my tests. I was very pleased with how the textile medium intensifies the colour AND fixes it so that you get no blending of colour with the brush, nor bleeding into other areas of the fabric. You can blend the watercolour pencils (or Inktense watercolour blocks) before applying the medium, or after (when it’s still wet) — it won’t cause the colours to run into each other. And with the textile medium there’s no ‘bleeding’ into the fabric either, as there is with water, which failed miserably in this test (see the photo for how badly the water did with this fabric).

(Click on a photo to view it larger)


The next photo is of part of a piece I decided to paint with this technique. I used Frixion Gel pen to mark my lines (yes, it irons out, even through the dried colour and textile medium), then shaded the line with black Inktense watercolour pencil, shading only near the left edge. The top part of the photo shows the immediate change in colour with the application of the textile medium (I didn’t shade the right edge of the column as I wanted it to fade off to light grey. The lower half is the watercolour pencil shading.


You don’t need to apply much colour. In fact, I’d advise you apply a small amount to start with. You can always add more when the fabric is still wet. But it would be impossible to remove the excess colour if you applied too much.



5 responses

26 07 2015

Hi Rhonda

When I get up on a drizzly wet Sunday here in the UK your posts brighten my day. Thanks for sharing this – its now on my to try list


21 08 2015
Dawn C.

You are really talented Rhonda! Thanks for all your inspiration.

23 08 2015
Karen Petersen

I looked for this textile medium and all I can find is folkart textile medium plaid 794. I can not find the plaid 594. Was this maybe a typo and you did use plaid 794? I really don’t want to buy the wrong thing. Thanks

24 08 2015

Hi Karen

My error! Yes, it is 794. I’ll change that in the blog post too.


7 07 2016
2016 Challenge | Rhonda Bracey: At Random

[…] had to experiment a lot to find a painting solution that didn’t bleed, eventually settling on Inktense watercolour pencils and a textile medium. I finished it off by stitching gold metallic thread on top of the red lanterns. It took a LONG […]

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