Inktense pencils on fabric

Inktense pencils on fabric


I was recently asked to talk about Derwent Inktense pencils and how they can be used on fabric. Last year we held a course at Gredelin Konstnärshandel, here in Sweden, where the students embroidered in black thread onto both plain cotton and also linen fabric. We then used Derwent Inktense pencils to colour them in. Inktense are water-soluble, have an impressive amount of pigment, and dry permanently on both paper and fabric. The important thing is to make sure you have dissolved them with some kind of liquid Рwater, or is in this video fabric medium. If you leave any areas dry, those will wash out of the fabric in the first wash.  I always hand-wash. I even use them on canvas paintings together with acrylic paints. You can buy Inktense pencils (for finer work) or Inktense blocks (for covering larger areas), both work really well on fabric. Tape the fabric down to a hard surface, stretching it slightly Рeither the table covered with a wax cloth or onto a piece of hardboard. If you are using lots of water then have plastic under the fabric Рlike a garbage bag which you stretch and tape down first.


I worked on these three cushion covers a few years ago and filmed the process. I used fabric medium when I drew and painted the roosters – because I didn’t want the water to take the colour too far outside the lines. Fabric medium is perfect because it’s much thicker and you can move it around with a brush. It dissolves the pigment on the surface and then dampens the surface. Best of all it stays put, and doesn’t bleed away into the threads of the fabric. Then you can go back over, working in shading, etc. Working with Inktense onto a damp surface however, can cause the colour to be MUCH more intensive – so always work into the area you want to be darker or brighter first and don’t press to hard. Once it has dried you can’t move the colour so if you see that you’ve got a dark patch, take more fabric medium and work into the spot with a brush – you should be able to move the pigment and spread it out. Someone asked me how lightfast Inktense are. Certain colours – the pinker reds, and some bluer greens can fade if exposed long periods to very bright sunlight. Covering them with fabric medium in the process does help. If you want to frame something use a UV protective glass. But these cushions in the films below are still looking good after several years, and they sit on my daughter’s sofas daily.

Here’s a colourchart from the Derwent homepage click on the link below) I own all 72 colours in the pencils,though I always choose my favourites and I have collected my absolute favourites in the Inktense Blocks.

Inktense colourchart

My favourites (I have quite a few!) are:
Sicilian Yellow
Sienna Gold
Burnt Orange
Hot Red
Chili Red

Red Violet
Dusky Purple
Dark Purple
Iron Blue
Deep Indigo (a REAL favourite!)
Dark Aquamarine
Green Aquamarine
Iron Green
Ionian Green
Light Olive
Leaf Green
Baked Earth
Saddle Brown
Bark (another all time fave!)
Sepia Ink
Indian Ink
Paynes Grey
Antique White (doesn’t really work on fabric, even dark fabric)

I’m not suggesting of course that I never use the rest of the 72 colours, but this is a list of the pencils I tend to grab first.

So here are the films I made a few years ago – you can watch them below. I have plans to do some more during the autumn since I’ve only really scratched the surface ( oops! A pun!) of what you can do with Inktense!

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