Markal Paintstiks to create rich surfaces for
by Ian Cole
Paintstiks are unique in the world of fabric
colouring and decorating. These oil and wax
crayons in a thick card sleeve offer instant
colour that can be applied to any porous surface
such as fabric, unglazed terracotta, plaster,
wood and paper - and with heat-fixing they become
permanent! They are available in rich iridescent
colours as well as bright primaries and rich
transparent artist's colours such as ultramarine
and purple - these are something not to be without
you are willing, initially, to be generous with
your time, thought and application, once you
are familiar with Markal they are very easy
masked with masking tape and brushed with a
range of 'Professional' Markal colours and 'Iridescent'
turquoise. Embellished using simple machine
stitching to enhance the colour further. See
start simply and address some of the many questions
asked: what type of fabric, how to make the
colour permanent, how to apply it to fabrics,
what type of design, how do I choose the colours
- I can hear all the questions coming!
can be applied to any type of fabric, any
fibre, synthetic or natural. Virtually any
weave will take Markal, but obviously very
textured surfaces do not give such even colour.
You do not need to choose a white fabric;
'Iridescent' Markal will work really well
on dark fabrics, and bright 'Professional'
colours such as azo or cadmium yellow and
napthol red are opaque enough to be applied
to a coloured fabric.
make Markal permanent on fabric, always allow
it to be absorbed into the fabric for 48 hours
and then iron it thoroughly for 4 minutes,
so that the heat really penetrates through
the fabric. To protect your iron and ironing-board
cover, place the fabric between two sheets
of greaseproof paper. Markal can even be used
on suede and leather, where it becomes permanent
is kept fresh by a thin skin forming over
the tip; this should be cut or rubbed away
Paintstiks are available in 52 'Professional'
colours, 14 'Iridescent' colours and gold.
Top: Mauve polyester fabric masked and worked
with 'iridescent' Markal - turquoise, light
gold, bronze and white.
Bottom: Red viscose satin with masked
bands of 'Iridescent' turquoise and gold. See
Black polyester using a torn paper mask
and brushed with iridescent white, bronze,
pink, orange, purple, blue, turquoise.
Right: 'Iridescent' Markal - leaf
green, silver, gold and purple - on black
acetate satin using rubbing technique over
a lino-block. See
of your choice)
1 - using masks
your fabric with masking tape to a smooth
board or surface, making sure it is taut
series of lines or areas of colour can
be created by using masking tape to
divide the fabric, or
or tear a strong piece of cartridge
paper and use the edge of the paper
a s a mask
the Markal colours that you want to use
and some old toothbrushes to help you apply
the colour. It is useful to have one brush
for each colour, as this prevents the colours
from becoming contaminated.
or rub away the thin skin over the tip and
apply the soft rich colour directly onto
the masking tape or paper mask adjacent
to where you want the colour. Apply a generous
amount so that the paper or tape changes
the matching toothbrush and brush the colour
from the mask onto the fabric - it is best
to brush away from you with firm, even strokes.
Keep brushing until the Markal has been
transferred from the mask onto the fabric.
another colour and apply more Markal to
the mask, brushing over the first colour
so that they blend together. To create different
effects, the mask maybe repositioned either
adjacent to or opposite your previous colour.
Keep brushing the colour away from you,
as that will give an even colouring. You
can always turn the taped board around to
reach other areas.
mix colours, apply them simultaneously,
or by applying one colour onto another.
You can shade the colours by applying paler
shades - such as the 'iridescent' ones,
white or pastel colours like slate blue,
sandstone or dusty pink - over dark colours.
assess your progress, lift a short section
of the tape or mask to see how the colour
is looking. If it is rather pale or uneven,
then you need to be a bit more generous
with the Markal; the finished effect is
very dependent on the thickness of the fabric,
the closeness of the weave and your application!
calico masked into squares and brushed with
'Professional' Markal colours, including
azo orange and yellow, napthol red, ultramarine
blue, wedgewood blue, and dioxazine purple.
painted fabric, viscose satin, with additions
of Markal using slivers of masking tape
and a range of 'Iridescent' Markal colours.
2 - as a rubbing
a raised or patterned surface such a textured
or patterned wallpaper, a piece of crocheted
lace, or a printing block. To create your
own printing block, stick everyday items
such as washers, paperclips or even kebab
sticks to a board to give a raised surface.
The block must be firm so that the texture
can easily be felt through the fabric.
your fabric to a flat surface, again making
sure it is taut, but only tape it on three
slide your textured surface between the
board and the fabric, so that the texture
is underneath the fabric.
the end off your Markal stick so that it
is completely uncovered and flat. For an
even application of colour, use the Markal
in a vertical position at right-angles to
the fabric surface.
the fabric with even strokes of Markal in
one direction. Working backwards and forwards
tends to give curved uneven lines of colour,
rather than a flat even application of colour.
rubbing the Markal onto the fabric, you
are applying the colour directly onto the
surface. You need to apply sufficient colour
to show on the fabric, but take care not
to let the Markal get too thick so that
it becomes stiff and cannot adhere.
you work the rubbing you can use different
colours so that the same pattern can take
on a variety of different effects: light,
dark, muted, bright or even metallic.
can always mix more than one pattern or
texture, but take care that the piece doesn't
become too confused. Try using the same
pattern, but alter the angle or change the
Small sample on polyester cotton twill, using
patterned wallpapers and a lino-block for a
Right: Green-dyed cotton poplin with rubbing
using 'Professional' light green, dusty pink, wedgewood blue, yellow citron and
a bought printed fabric by brushing additional
colour onto the background so that the fabric
becomes more individual but still has the
formality of the previously printed pattern.
you have a piece of dyed fabric that you are
not really happy with... attach little strips
of masking tape across the dyed surface and
then work contrasting 'iridescent' Markal
into the fabric. When you pull up the masking
tape the original colour is beneath but is
surrounded by the rich new Markal colour,
framing the original colours.
masking tape to create a simple geometric
grid and work the piece with a combination
of both brushed techniques and rubbed patterns.
is wonderful for drawing big, bold ideas onto
large sheets of a good firm paper. The thick
rich colour will apply easily from the stick,
and it makes an excellent resist for applications
of inks, allowing striking effects to be created
Markal can be worked into strong pliable surfaces
such as brown paper, or pelmet vilene, to
give lovely pearly surfaces. Work the Markal
over the surface, mixing the colours together
and rubbing it in with your fingers, to almost
are two blending sticks designed to extend
the pure Markal colours. The 'Professional'
blending stick can be used to thin the colours
and ease application. The 'Iridescent' blending
stick makes the pure 'Professional' colours
iridescent; for instance, blending it with
grape gives a rich pearlised purple;or with
navy it creates an iridescent denim colour.
viscose satin, with 'Iridescent' Markal patterns
brushed-off masks and rubbings from a block
made from garden plant ties. See
the fabric has absorbed the Markal for 48 hours
and the colour has been fixed by ironing, it
may be washed and ironed to make it easier to
handle for sewing, quilting or embroidering.
ideas for using Markal and many other
colouring products can be found in Ruth's
books, Colour on Paper and Fabric
(paperback £14.99, ISBN 0 7134 8641
4) and Glorious Papers (hardback £17.99,
ISBN 0 7134 8669 4) both published by
BT Batsford. These books are available
from the Embroiderers'
Paintstiks are available by mail order
from Art Van Go, The Studios, I Stevenage
Road, Knebworth, Herts SG3 6AN (send 33p
in stamps for a catalogue), tel. 01438