Along with rusting and tea dyeing, I have been thinking a lot about other ways to mark and stain fabric. And I suppose that's what triggered an old memory to pop in my head...
While driving in the car last week, I suddenly remembered a kid's magic book that I had when I was little, and of one specific trick... how to make invisible ink.
Do you remember that trick? It involved paper, lemon juice and a lightbulb. (The old fashioned incandescent ones that burned so bright and hot that they could burn your skin off and blind you at the same time. Those sure were the good old days.) The trick was simple... just write a message onto the paper using the lemon juice and let it dry, resulting in a blank and wee bit crinkly piece of paper. Then hold that paper over the hot light bulb and magically watch your message appear!
This random memory made me wonder if the same thing would happen if fabric were substituted for the paper, and a hot iron for the lightbulb... so soon as I got home, I tried it...
Lo and behold, it worked!
These samples above were done by folding the fabric then applying the juice, and the samples below were done by placing spots of juice onto the fabric.
So why does this work, (on paper and/or on fabric)?
Well, from what I read, (lots of info on doing this with paper, none that I could find on doing it on fabric) it has to do with certain organic substances, (lemon juice being one of them) that due to their mild acid content and occurring oxidation, heat up quicker then the paper, (or in my case fabric) resulting in the heat source scorching the areas of the paper, (or fabric) that came into contact with the substance. Orange juice, milk, honey, vinegar, and white wine are some other organic substances that can cause a similar effect.
Because of the mild acid content, I can't say what the long term effects of this method may be. However, lemon juice has long been used to help bleach stains out of fabric. Heck, even Martha Stewart recommends using lemon juice to bleach out stains in your linens... so I am not too, worried about the long term effects. Just as a precaution though, I did soak all my finished samples in a solution of water and baking soda to help neutralize any acidity, then followed with a hand wash and rinse, and would recommend anyone wanting to try this to do the same before using in projects.
P.S. Be warned, this method can leave scorching on the bottom of your iron's sole plate as well as your ironing board cover, messing them both up, (especially is you are impatient like I can be, and start ironing before the lemon juice has dried)! So, use a cheap or old iron that you don't care about, (you can usually get a $12 or $13 iron at Target and other stores) and a cheap ironing board cover as well.