Fabric Painting

Application Description

The four lines of GOLDEN Acrylics that are of interest to the fabric artist include the High Flow, Fluid Acrylics, Heavy Body, and Matte Colors. The main difference between each of these product lines is paint viscosity (thickness) or consistency. The High Flow Acrylics are the thinnest and are ready to spray. Fluid Colors are similar in consistency to a heavy cream. Heavy Body and Matte Acrylics are thick, with a buttery consistency. These various acrylic paint lines, each using the same lightfast pigments, allow the artist to combine the effects of spraying, staining, brushing and other application techniques.


Techniques for Fabric Painting

Hand Brushing

GOLDEN Heavy Body (including Iridescent and Interference Colors), Matte, Fluorescent, and Fluid Acrylics are appropriate for hand brushing techniques and heatsetting is not required. To provide a softer hand, which also prevents cracking in thicker passages, blend 1:1 with GAC 900 or GOLDEN Silkscreen Fabric Gel (for thicker paint applications). The GAC 900 and the Silkscreen Fabric Gel contain a special polymer additive that is designed to impart a softer hand, while offering excellent launderability when properly heatset (see directions below)



For best results, blend GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics with GOLDEN Airbrush Medium. Start with a 1:1 mixing ratio, and increase amount of GOLDEN Airbrush Medium as desired to increase sprayability and/or transparency. When artwork is complete, spray a thin coat of GAC 900 for least color loss. GAC 900 can be added to the system if a softer hand is desired (follow heatset directions below). For durability and washability in a spray application, this is the recommended system, and will perform significantly better than GOLDEN High Flow Acrylics alone.

GOLDEN Fluids blended with GOLDEN Airbrush Medium do not require heatsetting for launderability, yet equal the performance of fabric paints that do. Using GOLDEN Fluids generates a saving of time, energy, and money. Allow for garments to cure for at least 4 days prior to washing (Note: heatsetting will speed the curing time required and may increase the launderability).

GOLDEN Heavy Body, Matte, Iridescent, Interference and Fluorescent Colors can also be sprayed onto fabric; however, their thicker viscosities warrant more dilution with GOLDEN Airbrush Medium which yields weak, transparent coverage.

Although not recommended for fabric use, GOLDEN High Flow Acrylics may be blended 1:1 or more with the GAC 900 to aid in washfastness (properly heatset according to directions listed below). This lend, although better than GOLDEN High Flow Acrylics alone, is still not equal to the launderability performance of the Fluid Acrylics/Airbrush Medium mixture. Areas containing soft spray applications such as gradated areas, shading, and any skylines should be sprayed with a light coat of GAC 900 to increase launderability.


Tie-Dyeing & Staining

The viscosity of GOLDEN High Flow Acrylics is ideal for tiedye and staining applications. Prewetting the fabric with water and using the GOLDEN High Flow Acrylics in place of fiberreactive dyes creates brilliant patterns. Adding GOLDEN Acrylic Flow Release can also help the paint penetrate into the fabric (follow directions on label). To increase the launderability, blend the GOLDEN High Flow Acrylics 1:1 with GAC 900. After applying the paint to the fabric, wait for it to be completely dry before heatsetting or washing. This will maximize the amount of color that "sets" 3 into the fabric.

If GAC 900 is blended with the acrylic paints, follow the directions for heatsetting below. GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics may also be used for this technique, but will require the addition of water to thin to the proper viscosity, along with the GAC 900 to increase the launderability.


Silk Screening

GOLDEN Heavy Body, Matte, Fluorescent, or Fluid Colors blended 1:1 with GAC 900 or SilkScreen Fabric Gel produce silkscreen inks with excellent durability on fabric. The mixture used is dependent on two factors: the material to be printed and personal preference of paint consistency. For more information on using the Silk Screen Fabric Gel, click here. 

If screening onto heavy, cotton material, a thinner mixture of Fluid Colors and GAC 900 may be desired, as its thin consistency helps to penetrate into material. If printing on a polyester or synthetic material, a pastier mixture of Heavy Body Acrylics and SilkScreen Fabric Gel will work better due to a lower tendency of the ink to "bleed" 4 into the material. Some experimentation is needed to find the system that is best suited for your work.

This is a list of the various mixtures (1:1) from thickest consistency to the thinnest:

  • Heavy Body or Matte Acrylics/SilkScreen
  • Fabric Gel
  • Heavy Body or Matte Acrylics/GAC 900
  • Fluid Acrylics/SilkScreen
  • Fabric Gel
  • Fluid Acrylics/GAC 900
  • High Flow Acrylics/GAC 900

Both the GAC 900 and the Silk Screen Fabric Gel will impart softness of hand, while offering excellent launderability. Proper heat-setting is required for both products (see below for heatsetting instructions).



Proper product selection, heatsetting, and care ensure long garment life. Application of Large Areas or Long Lines Filling in large areas with thick paint will produce a very stiff, uncomfortable garment. Blend color with GAC 900/SilkScreen Fabric Gel to reduce the stiffness of the acrylic paint. If painting in a thick manner, short strokes of paint will hold better than long lines. The longer the line, the greater the chance of cracking when washed. A washing machine's agitator may stretch the garment beyond its limit and thus cause cracking.


Material Considerations

Test materials thoroughly before large production runs or when using a unique fabric. The looser the weave of the fabric (cotton/poly blends), the better the penetration and hold the paint will have on the material. Thicker fabrics (sweatshirt type weaves) should be slightly stretched with a backerboard to allow for better penetration of the paint into the material. To increase the adhesion onto any fabric a very light misting of water (e.g.with a plantmister) will increase the penetration into the material. Care should be taken with this technique, as over applying the water could result in bleeding of the color.



The heatsetting process will release low levels of formaldehyde; therefore it is recommended when heat setting to have adequate ventilation.

Fabrics treated with GAC 900/SilkScreen Fabric Gel modified paints must be heat set if maximum launderability is necessary. Products conform to ASTM D4236. All GOLDEN products should be used in accordance with safe handling practices. Read product labels prior to use. The polymer must first air dry to the touch to form the initial bond with the fabric, followed by one of the heatset methods listed below:

  • Heat Press according to press manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Iron for 35 minutes with a mediumhot iron on the reverse side (side opposite of the application). On delicate fabrics where lower heat levels must be used, a longer ironing time will be necessary.
  • Professional Oven Cure for 12 minutes at 300F; 4 minutes at 250F.
  • Clothes dryer: Commercial: mediumhigh temperature for 2040 minutes. Household: high temperature for 4050 minutes.


Washing and Drying

  • Let paint dry thoroughly (at least 4 days) before washing.
  • Handwashing will dramatically increase garment life.
  • Always turn garment insideout for laundering.
  • Avoid hot water washing. This will tend to soften and loosen acrylic paint from the garment.
  • Cold water works best for automatic washing of the painted garment.
  • Heatset when appropriate.
  • Set washer to gentle cycle.
  • Dripdrying instead of using the clothes dryer will increase the life of the garment.



GOLDEN Artist Colors Acrylics are professional artist paints. If properly prepared and cared for, GOLDEN Artist Colors Acrylics will produce a fabric artwork with good durability. GOLDEN Artist Colors Acrylics are produced with 100% Acrylic Polymer Emulsion. This produces a film with excellent flexibility, and chemical, water, and ultraviolet resistance. The milky emulsion dries transparent, allowing pigments to show their full color. All pigments in GOLDEN Acrylics are chosen for the greatest clarity and permanency within each chemical class. GOLDEN Acrylics dry quickly and may be painted over immediately yet complete drying/curing will take longer. Avoid freezing. Minimum film formation temperature is 48oF/9oC. To thin, use water or GOLDEN Mediums. For slower drying, use GOLDEN Retarder. Do not mix with oils. Paint on any nonoily surface. Nonabsorbent surfaces should be abraded for increased adhesion. Clean tools with soap and water. Keep tools wet during use.


Soft Hand - decrease in the hardness of the paint when dry, leaving a comfortable and breathable feel to the fabric.
Launderability - the ability for the fabric to be washed.
Sets - after washing, it is the remaining color left in the fabric.
Bleed - a halo effect around the brushstroke.


Quick Reference Chart for Choosing Golden Acrylic Paints for Fabric Use
Golden Acrylics to use for Fabric Hand Brushing Airbrushing or Spraying Tie-Dyeing or Staining Silk-Screening
High Flow Acrylics     X/O  
Fluid Acrylics X O X X
Iridescent Acrylics X X X X
Interference Acrylics X X X X
Heavy Body Acrylics O X   O
Fluorescent Acrylics X X X X
Matte Acrylics X X   X
X Can be used for this technique
O Best recommendation for particular technique
Quick Reference Chart for Choosing Which Golden Gel/Medium to Blend with Golden Acrylics for Fabric Use
Golden mediums to use for Fabric Hand Brushing Airbrushing or Spraying Tie-Dyeing or Staining Silk-Screening
Airbrush Medium   X/O    
GAC 900 O X O X
Silk-Screen Fabric Gel X     O
Acrylic Flow Release     X/O  
X Can be used for this technique
O Best recommendation for particular technique