Showtime !

Visiting The Bleach Painting Technique

Submitted by:Ginny Getty

Webmasters note: There have been several articles plus a lot of discussion in the chat rooms and on the bulletin boards lately about the Bleach Technique. For those of you who have not tried it yet or are interested in a new approach, here are some basic directions and a few variations.
Click here for a gallery of samples


1. Bleach: - Common household liquid type - Clorox

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: Be careful of splashing - you may want to wear safety glasses and old clothing and of course heed all the warnings on the side of the bottle!

NOTE: two alternatives are:
.......A. The new Clorox Advantage Bleach - it is thicker, kind of gel-like. Some feel there is less odor, easier application and it doesn't splash.

.......B. Dishwasher gel - Cascade (some have recommended this - I have not tried it)

2. Applicators: NOTE: Please keep in mind bleach is a corrosive and it will: corrode metal, (including the metal ferrule on your brushes), dissolve natural bristle brushes (by the way, I lost, only one good brush before I wised up to this one. It made the most INCREDIBLE color that I loved!!! But I decided that was an expensive way to go), eat holes in clothes, and can't possible be good for your rubber stamps!

......... brush - must be nylon bristles. (There are two I like and use- .........Pro Art #3 Round and a Loew Cornell 801 white nylon liner).
.........Rubber stamp
.........Cotton ball
Just keep these principles in mind, and be sure to rinse off any applicator you choose to use often and well after use!

3. Containers: You can store your supply of bleach in its original plastic bottle (like the Clorox bottles) OR - try using a fingernail polish or a cuticle remover bottle!! This works so well! Clean out the bottle well with polish remover and fill with bleach. The advantages are three-fold:

..........a. You'll have a sturdy glass bottle with a plastic lid & a wide base that's not easy to tip over and not susceptible to corrosion by the bleach.

......... b. The narrow opening reduces the evaporation and thus the odor.

.........c. Best of all, it has it's own built in nylon bristle brush and a plastic ferrule!

4. Paper: Any and all colored card stock! I have used light yellows and tans all the way to the darkest colors. What is amazing here is the different response you can have to the bleach on each color. You could have four different blues in front of you and one will turn gray, one goes to a light blue, another turns bright green and another to shades of brown. Experiment wildly and you will discover different effects on your favorite card stock.

5. Mixing Tray: - Use an artist's watercolor palette of plastic or ceramic.. I like one of the small plastic 6 cups mixing trays.

6. Eye Dropper: - (optional) -A glass and rubber or plastic eye dropper or pipette is useful for diluting the bleach.

7. Water for rinsing brushes and diluting bleach


Mixing dilutions-
Put about 4 drops of bleach in each of three cups of the mixing tray. Then dilute one of the solutions with a 2:1 ratio of water to bleach (8 drops of water). The 2nd cup is diluted to a 4:1 ratio (16 drops of water) and the third cup is left full strength.

These are just an initial dilution and are quite arbitrary. At this point you need to test the three solutions on the back of your card stock. Using any of the brushes or a Q-tip, apply a small streak from each cup and then allow to dry.

Depending on the card stock, the solutions may continue to bleach until dry. Determine if the result is the range of shades that you want, or if more of a dilution in one or both cups will give you the variation in the color and shading you want. Add more water until you achieve the dilution that will work best on THIS particular card stock. Remember to leave the one cup with full strength bleach for the strongest highlights.

You can see here a sample of using the various strengths on a sample piece of cardstock.

My favorite technique is to use a line image stamp, emboss the image with clear ink and clear embossing powder on dark card stock. The clear ink and EP simply darkens the existing color of the paper and provides a natural barrier to the bleach to prevent spreading and bleeding. You can also emboss the image with black ink and clear powder for a more dramatic look.

I use my brushes to apply the weakest dilution to select parts of the image. This gives me the first layer of color. From here I use the 2nd (stronger) dilution to highlight certain areas. Finally, I use the full strength bleach for the key and lightest highlights. The trick here is to use one brush in the full strength, and have a second brush ready with just water in it. I apply the line or spot of pure bleach and then, with the water brush, blend the color out a bit so there is not a "line" of obvious application. It is that simple!!

Some fun things to paint with bleach are:
........emboss an animal on tan cardstock and bleach the whites of it's eyes
........bleach snowcaps on mountains
........lighten Santa's beard
........bleach angel wings and halos


Try several other techniques to get the look you want!

1. Put bleach on a multi-layered "pad" of paper towels and tap your stamp on the pad to "ink up" with bleach and apply directly as you would ink on your card stock. Remember to clean your stamp off immediately after use to protect your rubber. (This is one technique where I definitely see an advantage to the "Clorox Advantage"!). Also remember that the image you stamp will be a "negative" like a photograph?.animals, people and anything with eyes will look like your negatives - backwards! Which is great if that's the effect you want.

2. Put bleach solution on a cotton ball and tap or swirl around your sky to make clouds.

3. Use Black or gold embossing powder to emphasize the lines of your image.

4. Once the image is bleached and dried--- go back and RE-COLOR your image with water color, marking pens, pencils or Radiant Pearls (this really intensifies the color and sheen of the pearls)!!!!!!

5. Experiment! Try bleach-stamping fabric with big, bold stamps.


In closing, I want to thank the lady who inspired me and sent me my first bleached card - Francine Shivas! Thank you friend - the resulting look bleach gives me with my images has opened up a whole new world of options for me! I have gone through my collection of stamps and pulled out images I have not used for years!! It is easy, fast and fun.

If you have questions, new ideas or comments-- please don't hesitate to email me! I would love to learn more about the possibilities! Now go forth and bleach wildly - and don't be afraid! LOL!

Many Thanks to Ginny Getty for sharing what she's developed painting with bleach.

Back to Gingerwood Enterprises...