Sea Salt Painting

by Marianne Biship

Sea Salt Painting is easy to do, uses supplies that most of us already have on hand, and gives you the control to create the color palette you want. The coarse sea salt absorbs some of the wet paint causing a subtle mottling effect while chaffing up a slight nap on the top of the fabric. Both the front and the back of your fabric will provide an equally interesting foundation for your favorite artwork.

In step 1, you will see how easy it is to adjust the amount of water you use to get a palette from the palest of pastels to stronger colors. Sea Salt painting can be used on most natural fibers although you may wish to experiment on 100% white cotton first. In all my samples, I used a 100% white cotton fabric that has embossed stars on it.


100% white cotton fabric (Fat Quarter(s) are a good size to start.)

Safety equipment:
        o counter top protector
        o old dishpans
        o apron
        o rubber gloves

100% Natural Coarse Sea Salt

Dye-na-flow fabric paint by Jacquard (Note: This paint will stain anything it gets on.)

Paint tools you like to work with. I used foam and hair brushes, squirted directly from the paint bottle and let paint drizzle.

Spray bottle of tap water

Coated cookie sheet with a surround lip to catch the paint drips. (Note: The cookie sheet must be a coated one – metal will interact with the salt. Once used for painting, the cookie sheet can no longer be used for cooking.)

2″-deep plastic container for elevating one end of the cookie sheet

Old wood hoop or similar item to elevate wet fabric for drying

1. Prepare your fabric for painting. Hoop or elevate your fabric in the cookie sheet then spray your fabric with water to keep it damp while you add your paint.

Note: The amount of water you apply determines the strength of color. Sample 2 was soaked prior to painting. Samples 1, 3 & 4 were only lightly sprayed prior to painting.

2. Apply Dye-na-flow paint. Start having fun making swirls, drips, brush strokes with your paints. Paint the bits of fabric that overhang into your cookie sheet too. I like to dribble some Lumiere Metallic gold fabric paint on the overhang. The salt won’t draw it, and we won’t be heat setting it in the usual manner, so the paint will end up looking like bits of dull gold leaf stuck to the fabric. I love to use it for small appliqués and folded flowers.

3. Add Sea Salt. Immediately sprinkle the sea salt over the surface of the wet fabric.

4. Dry your painted fabric. Elevate one end of the cookie sheet with the 2″-deep plastic container and let your fabric dry undisturbed for 24 hours, or until dry. You may need to sponge out any watery paint that drains to the lower end of your cookie sheet.

5. When fabric is dry, remove sea salt. Remove as much of the Dye-na-flow saturated sea salt as possible. Slide the cookie sheet, with your hooped fabric still on it, into a trash bag. Reach into the bag to remove the hoop and rub off the loose salt.

6. Rinse. Rinse your fabric in cool water until the water runs clear. Don’t be alarmed by the amount of paint in your water. Most of it is coming out of any remaining sea salt as it very slowly dissolves. Roll the fabric up in a clean, dry towel to absorb excess moisture.

Heat set fabrics ready to use.

7. Heat set. Cover your ironing board with paper towels to absorb moisture, lay your rinsed fabric face down on the towels, top with paper towels and press with a hot, dry iron until the fabric is completely dry.

You can have lots of fun with Sea Salt Painting. Enjoy experimenting!