Simple Science Art using Sharpie Markers

tiedyechromotographyMy daughter loves art. I can imagine the day she will have her own blog called “”!  Hoping that her two interests could coexist together, she wisely asked, “Mom, can science be art?”  Yikes. As with most of her questions, it caught me off guard. “Um, yes of course it can be!”, I fumbled. I spent the next few days researching an experiment that would interest her most creative side!

I found that you can do chromatography with Sharpie Markers and rubbing alcohol to make amazing tie-dye art!  Scientists use chromatography to separate mixtures into their individual parts using a solvent (like alcohol) to separate a mixture (like the colors in the Sharpie marker).  Interestingly, industry uses of chromatography include testing blood samples, testing for contaminants in water, and controlling food quality!

The best part of this experiment is it’s simple setup and easy execution!

Here’s what you need:

  • Sharpie Markers
  • Rubbing alcohol (90% isopropyl alcohol that you can find at Target)
  • Eye dropper
  • Cotton T-shirt

Here’s how you do it.

  1. Place newspaper or cardboard inside the t-shirt (to prevent the markers from bleeding through)
  2. Make small dots of different colors in a flower pattern all over the shirt. Be as artistic as you’d like!
  3. Then replace the newspaper with a cookie sheet inside the t-shirt to catch any alcohol drippings
  4. Fill the eye dropper with rubbing alcohol and slowly place it at the center of the ink pattern
  5. Allow the alcohol to dry then toss the shirt in the dryer for 15 minutes to set the design

Check out this video. Pretty neat, huh?

Allie enjoyed making her own t-shirt. But when I tried to help she said I didn’t understand her “style”.  Oh boy…

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Who knew that science could be so colorful and artistic!? I think Allie is convinced her two favorite worlds can work together in harmony.

We would love to see the results of your chromatography art! Post your pictures and make sure you tag it #shelovesscience so we can all connect together!


Categories: 3 ingredient experiments, science art | Tags: , |

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