Experimenting allows learning from "failures" - featured image

No 61 – Series: Fabric Painting Techniques – WET & DRY TECHNIQUES – Learning from mistakes

Painting on wet fabric – Don’t expect exact and accurate results! 🙂

Dear friends of Your Colourful Mind,

Planning creative activities and expecting special results 

Last time, when we experimented with salt-printing on wet fabric (Post 60), some of the results differed from what we had expected to see.

This experience, of course, is quite typical for any creative process: We start with a concrete idea on our mind and sometimes end up with something that looks completely different.

In most cases, that’s not a disaster, very often the final result is even nicer or more creative than our original idea.

But it also happens that we are definitely and absolutely not happy with the results of our work. This can especially be the case if we work with a new material or tool or technique for the first time.

Fabric paint can be a “headstrong and stubborn partner” in the painting process

The different wet fabric painting techniques are especially challenging because on wet fabric the paint often develops its own life and behaves in unexpected ways.

So, when I started experimenting with wet techniques, I assumed that I would have to learn a lot and that many of my first projects might not meet my expectations. I bought some cheap aprons and tea-towels, because I didn’t want to waste more expensive fabrics and garments.

Be adventurous and enjoy risk-taking when you start to learn new creative techniques

I am still an absolute beginner in the field of wet fabric techniques.

But most of what I have learned so far is based on the failures I made. Or, – to express it in a more positive way -, on “unexpected project developments”. 🙂


fabric painting techniques - apron - wet - sprinkling salt on wet painted areas - dark-edged rings
post 61 – fabric painting techniques – apron – wet – sprinkling salt on wet painted areas – dark-edged rings

I presented this apron last time already (Post 60) to show that the salt-printing process was not as effectual as expected.

My assumption was that I should have created a thicker paint layer when I spray-painted the fabric. And, perhaps, I should have used more salt or salt with larger crystals.

Thus, – not the desired result, but a worthy learning gain.

But with this apron, something else went wrong and taught me something new.

Prior to the spray-painting, I had sprayed one half of the apron with water to make it wet or at least dampen it. The other half I left dry.

As we can see, working on wet AND dry fabric can have unwanted consequences: when the fabric and the paint got dry, an ugly dark-edged ring developed where the former dry and wet areas met. It also seems that I hadn’t dampened the wet half evenly because there, too, a dark-edged ring of colour showed up.


This simple project that didn’t proceed as I planned it and that could be seen as a failure, on the other hand succeeded in giving me at least the following insights:

  • Use salt with larger crystals for salt-printing projects because the larger the crystals, the more paint gets wicked and the larger the formations.
  • Take care that the area where you wish to place the salt is wet enough and that you apply sufficient paint. And use paint which is thin (diluted) enough.
  • Expect dark-edged rings where dry and wet areas of the fabric meet each other. To avoid this, you might decide to make the whole piece of fabric wet and not only parts of it.

Do you have experienced “failures” which helped you get new insights?

Share your experiences with us: Fill in the comment-form below or send your email to margot@your-colourful-mind.com.

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Have fun with your (wet) fabric painting projects, and share images of the results with us!

signature - Margot

One thought on “No 61 – Series: Fabric Painting Techniques – WET & DRY TECHNIQUES – Learning from mistakes”

  1. Hi Margot,

    as always, excellent. Well-done.

    Best Ferdie

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