Marbling Fabric with Shaving Foam

This is one of the coolest craft things I have done in a while. It's actually quite simple to do, doesn't use any expensive materials that you might not already have at home and creates the prettiest fabric that can be used for your next project. 

What you need:

  • Shaving foam
  • Fabric
  • Fabric paint
  • Wooden or metal ruler for scraping (a wooden lolly stick works well too)
  • Rubber spatula
  • A shallow tray (a baking tray with a lip is perfect)
  • Toothpick or wooden skewer
  • Paper towels

How to do it:

Spray your foam into the tray, smooth it out with your rubber spatula. Add your fabric paint either with a paint brush, or squeeze it out, or use your wooden skewer to scoop it out.

Use the skewer to swirl it around. Be careful not to over-mix, or else you'll lose the marbling effect.

Place your fabric right side down onto the shaving foam and use your hand to smooth out the fabric so that its all touching the shaving foam. You'll be able to see the pattern transferring onto the fabric from the back if your fabric isn't too thick.

Lift up your fabric from the corner and place it down on a paper towel. Use your ruler to scrape away the shaving cream. Lay it to dry.

You can get 2-3 transfers like this, but I found the second and third transfers were a bit faded, so try adding a bit more paint, or a new colour and having another go.

After a few tries, here are a few of the things I have learnt and also a couple of tips and tricks if you fancy trying this at home too.

1. You don't need too much foam.

The layer of foam on your tray doesn't actually have to be too deep. I practically used up an entire (although small canister) can for 3 sessions. I learned after the first one that if you spray some on, you can spread it out thinner with a spatula.

2. Use fabric paint, instead of acrylic paint

I did tests with both kinds of paint. I used DYLON fabric paints for some and acrylic paint mixed with textile medium for others and every time the fabric paint worked better. It just soaks into the fabric quicker and adheres better than acrylic paint does. 

 Acrylic paints mixed with fabric medium

Acrylic paints mixed with fabric medium

 DYLON fabric paint

DYLON fabric paint

3. If you do use acrylic paint, let it set a bit before you scrape

After you peel back your fabric, let it set a bit and dry, not too dry that the shaving foam dries but half-hour or so. Then the paint will set a bit into the fabric before you scrape away the shaving foam. This worked mostly well with lighter colours, but unfortunately even after letting it set a bit, the dark blue will scraped away and left me with a mottled pattern. Still aright, but not that nice.

4. Don't forget to heat-set your paints

After scraping off the shaving foam, let your fabric dry a bit so that the paint can properly dry. Then run it under cold water to get rid of all the shaving foam. Then, heat-set the paint according to the instructions on the packet. For DYLON paints, this means putting a cloth over your paint and ironing it on a med-high heat for a few seconds. I then tossed all my pieces into the wash to make sure all the shaving foam was really off, ironed it again and it was ready to use.