No 54 – Series: Fabric Painting Techniques – Comparison of wet and dry techniques

Wet? Dry? – Why is it important whether the fabric is wet or dry?

Dear friends of Your Colourful Mind,

In post No 50 we got a broad overview of fabric painting techniques.

Today we focus on the decision which has to be made at the beginning of each fabric painting project:

Dry technique or wet technique?


short table referring to technique categories


Fabric painting techniques can be very broadly categorized as wet or dry techniques
  • Wet techniques are applied on wet or dampened fabric with usually thin “watery” paints,
  • dry techniques use thicker paints on dry fabric.
The main effects of the dryness or the wetness
  • dry techniques are chosen if we wish the colours to remain intense and the paints to remain exactly at the place where they were applied;
  • wet techniques are applied if we wish the colours to get blended or paled and if we want them to bleed into neighbouring areas and colours.


Based on this very general categorization we can have a closer look at the different fabric painting techniques. Or at least at some of them because the number of ways and methods of painting available to us is actually endless.

Many techniques can be applied on dry and on wet fabric,  – but the results will be completely different.

For example, spraying thin paint using spray bottles or ready-made fabric sprays is possible both on wet and on dry materials, but the results and additionally achievable effects differ markedly.

Usually each technique is more suitably assigned to one of the broad categories.

It is, for example, possible to stamp or stencil on wet fabric. Nevertheless, stencilling and stamping are mostly done on dry fabric because with these techniques the intention usually is to create a clear pattern or image, thus bleeding colours would lead to unwanted results.

Other techniques can only be realized as a dry or a wet technique.

Accurate and detailed drawing or painting, for example, can only be down with thick(er) paints on dry fabric. And techniques such as salting or sun printing can only be realized with thin paints on wet fabric.

It is also possible to combine dry and wet processes in one project.

For example, after the application of opaque paint we can let it dry and then wash over it with thin transparent paint.

Or the wet colour washing technique can be applied with thin/diluted paints and then, when it is dry, opaque paints can be used to stamp or stencil on top.

In the next post (Post No 55), the second part in a sequence of three posts on fabric paints, we will have a closer look at the most important characteristics of fabric paints and the influence they have on our available choices of fabric painting techniques.

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signature - Margot


3 thoughts on “No 54 – Series: Fabric Painting Techniques – Comparison of wet and dry techniques”

  1. Hi Margot,

    the wet painting technique looks very appealing to me. Can you show one or two more examples in your next blog?

    Best Ferdie

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