true fluorescent dyes and fabric paints

Name: Donna


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Jacquard flowable extender 2.25 oz. jar flowable extender image-1910599-10273655

Jacquard Flowable Extender
Clear Fabric Paint

Flowable Extender is a medium-bodied clear acrylic fabric paint base.


Jacquard textile colors  fluorescent yellow

Jacquard Textile Colors fluorescent yellow

Jacquard Textile Colors leave fabric as soft as possible.


Duncan tulip slick dimensional fabric paint 1 1/4 oz. fluorescent orange

Tulip Slick Dimensional Fabric Paint

These brightly colored fabric paints achieve a shiny wet look, even when dry.

Fluorescent fabric markers set

Fluorescent Fabric Markers

Use these fine point, permanent markers to draw or paint on any fabric!


Message: I do understand you must be bombarded with requests for information, mine is quite simple but if you are too busy to reply I'll understand. I want to paint fabrics in U.V active florescent paints that I can fix, although I have found UV fabric dyes in craft shops they are in tiny quantities, and I really want to but powder pigment and make my own. What can I add to powder pigment to fix the paint to cloth so that the paint can be used to paint rather than dye the material? I would really be grateful for any advice! thank you

If you're making your own paint to use on the fabric to wear, you'll want a soft fabric paint base, so that the fabric is not too stiff and scratchy to wear. The nicest, softest fabric paints tend to be expensive. If you're painting fabric for some other purpose, such as a wall hanging, this doesn't matter so much; almost any clear fabric glue should work for that. However, higher quality demands the same 'glue' that is used to create good fabric paints, such as Versatex clear extender, and colorless Jacquard Textile paint, Jacquard Neopaque Extender. Pro Chemical & Dye sells a similar product, PROfab Base Extender. All of these are available in more economical bulk quantities, quarts or even gallons, in addition to the small jars.

Before you go to the trouble of making your own fluorescent paints, do check the prices of fluorescent fabric paints at the various good mail-order dye retailers. Prices in local crafts stores tend to be amazingly high, for tiny quantities, on almost anything; purchasing dyes or fabric paints from any of the dye retailers on my Sources for Dyeing Supplies list will be much more economical, in the long run, besides affording a better range of products. There are true fluorescent paints, which glow under blacklight, among several different lines of good fabric paints. Fluorescent Versatex transparent fabric inks include the colors yellow, blue, green, orange, and violet; like several other suppliers, they offer their fabric paints in quantities up to a gallon, which will afford considerable savings over smaller jars of paint. There are also true fluorescents among Setacolor Fabric Colors, Jacquard Fabric Paint, and Createx Fabric paints. ProChem (PRO Chemical & Dye) also sells fluorescent fabric paints in their line of PROFab Pigment Color Concentrates. Another good source for many fabric paints is Dharma Trading Company, which also sells Dharma Pigment Dye (actually a paint, not a dye). Each of these paints will require heat-setting, though allowing them to dry on the fabric at room temperature for at least a month will often have the same effect. Dye is nicer to the touch than paint, but the color range available in fabric paints is so much better that, for painting with true fluorescent colors, fabric paints are probably much better than dyes.

I have been looking into the topic of fluorescent dyes. UV-active fluorescent dyes, that is, true fluorescents, as opposed to colors which are merely so bright that they look as though they might be fluorescent, present some problems. While there are fluorescent dyes in most classes of dyes, there is never a full range of colors.

As you have seen, Dylon "UV Fluorescent Fabric dye" is expensive to use, simply because it is packaged in such tiny tins; each will dye only half a pound of fabric. The colors are numbered 63 yellow, 64 green, and 65 pink. The instructions (see glowshop's) indicate that these dyes may be used on both cellulose fibers (cotton, linen, etc.) and animal fibers (wool, silk, and also nylon, which dyes like wool); the dye must be simmered with the fiber. These instructions, and the picture of the tins, imply that the dye is part of Dylon's line of Multi-purpose Dye. These dyes tends to not be very long-lasting when washed; in many cases, they are a mixture of acid dyes (for protein) and direct dyes (for cellulose), but some direct dyes work on both types of fiber, so they might just be direct dyes. This dye would undoubtedly be MUCH more economical if purchased in bulk. I understand that Aljo Dyes, in New York, sells fluorescent direct dye, but I know of no other source. Unfortunately, Aljo's web site has gone down again as of this writing, so the only way to find out is by telephoning them (their number is on my Sources for Dyeing Supplies list), and they do not have a toll-fee number.

Other fluorescent dyes include just two that I know of in the Procion MX line of fiber reactive dyes; unfortunately, these are hard to find. One is a lovely blue-violet, Blue MX-7RX or reactive blue #161; it is extremely difficult to find (it is not carried by the major dye suppliers, such as Dharma and Prochem), very expensive, and easily damaged by even reasonable exposure to bright visible light. Another I recall as being either rubine MX-B (reactive red #6) or orange MX-G (reactive orange #1); I don't recall which one just now, because I love to use these two dyes together. These also are not easily found. I purchased Reactive Orange #1 from Standard Dyes.

It is easier to find fluorescent dyes in the acid dye family, which is used only for proteins fibers such as silk. Prochem (PRO Chemical & Dye) sells the fluorescent Rhodamine B and Flavine Yellow among their Washfast Acid Dyes. Among Dharma's acid dyes, #620 Hot Fuchsia is probably Rhodamine B; they have also listed #627 Brilliant Kelly Green and #628 Chartreuse as being fluorescent, and they sell a 'Fluorescent Yellow Dye', possibly Flavine Yellow, that works only on protein fibers. All of these are normally used for immersion dyeing, not for direct application, such as painting. In theory they might be usable by painting and then steaming, but without experimenting we cannot say how good they really would be, and properly steaming painted fabric, so color does not run and creases are not formed, is a skill in its own right.

Fluorescent white dye is extremely common. This is a type of dye that absorbs dye in the invisible ultraviolet range, then emits it as visible white light, thus creating "whiter than white". Almost all laundry detergent contains some of this dye, which is why most white clothing appears to fluoresce under a blacklight (ultraviolet lamp). You can get even brighter results by purchasing the dye itself. The Rit Dye company sells it as Rit Whitener & Brightener, available next to the little boxes of not-very-washfast "all purpose" dye sold in nearly every drugstore and grocery in the US. Dharma Trading Company sells an Optic Whitener, Uvitex BNB, which is probably more concentrated. None of these dyes are very washfast, so they must be reapplied now and then to regularly laundered fabric.

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[updated February 27, 2008]

Posted: Saturday - April 23, 2005 at 07:51 AM          

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