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Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Comparison

Reported by Susan Reidy

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon.com affiliate program.

For my oldest daughter’s last two birthday celebrations, we’ve had slumber parties. Aside from not sleeping, a major part of the fun was glow-in-the-dark paint.

I not only used it for decorations and goodie bag items, the girls crafted with it. There are several brands of glow paint (and even glow glitter by Martha Stewart), but I will be focusing on the acrylic paint by Americana and the dimensional fabric paint by Tulip.

Tulip Glow in the Dark Paint

Both paints must be exposed to light in order to glow. The length and strength of the exposure will greatly impact how much and for how long they glow. Below is a glow shot of each product in the bottle, after brief exposure to a curly-q light bulb (I guess they’re technically called CFLs).

Tulip Glow in the Dark Paint

The Americana has a larger label, so it’s harder to see the glow. In general, I found both had the same amount of “glow” power.

From a use standpoint, both paints can be used on a variety of surfaces including fabric, wood and plastic.  I tried both on fabric, paper and wood, and just the Americana on glass and plastic.

I found each served a purpose in what I wanted to accomplish. The Tulip paint is dimensional, and you squeeze it out of the bottle, so you can write with it or easily create shapes. The Americana is a traditional acrylic paint that can be brushed or sponged on.

First up, I’ll show you how the Americana works. For my daughter’s party, I poured some of the paint into empty soda bottles to create glowing bowling pins for a nighttime game. I stood the pins around a camping lantern, so they glowed pretty well through several rounds of glow bowling.

It was better to pour the paint inside the bottle and swirl it around, versus painting the outside. It just glowed better, although I felt like I wasted some paint.

Here’s the helpful pin setter. I didn’t get a good glowing shot that night, and then my pin setter threw my pins away!

Next up, I wanted to use it to add some spooky Halloween glow to a creepy bottle I created. I started with an empty wine bottle, Mod Podge and some tissue paper.

I used the Mod Podge to cover my bottle with the white tissue paper.

And then I used Tim Holtz Distress Inks to age my bottle. I added this Martha Stewart Halloween label, which I also distressed a little.

Pretty spooky, huh? To up the creepy factor, I wanted my bottle to glow. I used the Americana paint to add an overall glow. With my first try, my layer of paint was too thin, and I hardly got any glow at all. So then I really slathered it on. Once the paint dries, it’s translucent, so my big gobs of glow paint aren’t visible (except at night!).

Here she glows!

For my next project, I wanted my glowing items to have color during the day. According to Americana, you can add light colored paint to the glow paint, and still have it glow. I mixed in some buttercup paint from Making Memories for my stars on this project. The sign and stars are made from Roc-Lon Multi-Purpose Cloth.

Please ignore my terrible black paint job. Not sure what happened there. I loved the color and that my “glowing” stars would have some oomph even during the day. I tested the glow. Thanks to my several coats of paint (at least three), I think they still glowed great.

One point I want to note — I tried to paint a sheet of paper with the drippings from my glow bowling pins mentioned above. I was hoping to create a giant glow in the dark sheet of paper that I could then punch shapes from. The results were less than stellar. The glow was very streaky, but unfortunately I didn’t get a picture before the trash man struck again.I think the paint works better, from a glow perspective, in smaller areas, like my stars. The coverage just wasn’t great for a larger area.

Next up are some projects with the Tulip paint. I love the texture of this one, and that it comes in different colors: Natural Glow, Green Glow, Orange Glow and Yellow Glow. I used Natural Glow for my projects, which doesn’t have a lot of color when dry, that is unless it’s glowing.

For my daughter’s slumber party, I embellished the bottoms of some socks for the girls. Not only did it add some traction to the socks, they glowed.

Here’s an up close of the design, showing the texture it gives.

Here’s an overall shot. These were made over a year ago, and have been worn and washed several times. The design has held on great.

And the glow has stuck around. Check it out:

During the party, the girls decorated some wood door hangers and I added their names in the Tulip glow paint.

Here it is dry and in daylight:

Here it is glowing:

It’s like a secret message!

For this year’s party, I made some scary eyes to decorate the outdoors. I thought they were fun, but it was hard to get these to glow, since they were attached to the tree. Shining a flashlight worked some, but didn’t get the great glow that the CFLs produced.

We all had lots of fun playing with these paints, and my girls thought I had some magical, glowing powers. I’m planning all sorts of Halloween ideas — pumpkin faces, treat bags, or even adding some to costumes.

Pros:

  • Both paints have great glow powers after exposure to light.
  • Simple and fun to use, and cheap too!
  • Both can be used on multiple surfaces including paper, fabric, plastic and wood.
  • The Americana can be mixed with other acrylics so the paint has some color when it’s not glowing.
  • The Tulip paint comes in multiple colors.

Cons:

  • The Americana is better on small areas, if you want a great overall glow. On larger areas, it get streaky (which worked out great for my bottle project).
  • The Americana and Tulip Natural Glow dry translucent, so it’s hard to see during the day (which can be a pro or a con, depending on the project).
  • Paints have to be exposed to direct light in order to glow.

Have you tried glow in the dark paints? How do you like to use them? Do you think my scary eyes are actually scary?

Glow-in-the-Dark Tulip Dimensional Fabric Paint

Reported by Jessica Ripley

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon.com affiliate program.

It is no secret to you, if you’ve read my reviews here on Craft Critique… I love fabric paint! Especially dimensional fabric paint (i.e. puff paint). Specifically Tulip’s brand, because I find it so versatile and easy to use (I think their soft fabric paint rocks too). Those experiences in the past are exactly why I didn’t hesitate to pick up the glow in the dark version of Tulip’s Dimensional Fabric Paint the moment I ran across it in the store. How cool I thought!

Darn it if I wasn’t disappointed this time.

I had a hard time with this review, at first thinking it was just my mojo that was suffering and it was I that wasn’t using it right, etc…but after committing to the project below, I just couldn’t quite get my vision across. Was it me? Was it the product? I’ll take you through what I did and then hope you take a moment to leave a comment below with some pointers or even better experiences than I had so I can try again.

I decided to design a black ball cap with a simple shooting star, in particular to wear to the golf course. I just knew I’d be the coolest gal in the four-some when the sun started to set and my hat was all a-blaze. I started off with what I consider my tried and true method for using puff paint which is to trace a pattern using only dots of the paint around an object to make the design stand out.

Right away I noticed that the paint was for some reason just not the same consistency as the others I have used, and my dots were running together.


So I decided to for-go the little dots and just trace a design using plain old lines. This didn’t turn out wonderfully either unfortunately. Still runny.


You can see in the photo above some attempts at just making lines as well with the different colors. Honestly I have a pretty light and steady hand, but I just couldn’t get the paint to not look lumpy or runny. A big part of me thinks this is due to the size of the paint and nozzle on the 4 oz size that I used. It was difficult to keep the paint consistent and ‘clean’ as opposed to the smaller 1.25 oz bottles of dimensional paint that in turn have a tinier nozzle (which this glow-in-the-dark version is available in too).

The glow in the dark paint is available in 4 colors; green, orange, yellow, and natural. The “natural” color, though it appears white in the bottle, does have a slight green tinge to it (especially when it dries). However, if I wanted to add a little ‘glow’ to a fabric project it would be the most versatile to have on hand as it would blend in with other colors the best. The green, yellow, and orange colors are fun, but very neon in regular light.

And speaking of the colors, what they show in regular light is not quite what they look like when in the dark. For example, though you can clearly distinguish the different colors here:


It’s a bit difficult to distinguish green from natural from yellow here once the lights are off:

So between those three colors, it’s important to keep in mind what you want your project to look like in the dark, don’t add detail with green next to detail with yellow and expect them to be clearly seen in the dark.

Incidentally, I was only able to achieve a glow effect after holding the dried hat under a lamp for several minutes. After I had let it sit for the 4-hour drying time and came back to check on it in the now dark room, it was not glowing at all. All glow-in-the-dark objects are “charged” by lights of course, and there is no reason to think this paint would be any exception, but that’s just something to keep in mind depending on your project. If you make a t-shirt or a hat for example and keep it in a dark closet, you’ll need to “charge” it before it will glow when you decide to wear it.

Pros:

  • Really glows after charging in light.
  • Like other Tulip Dimensional Paints this version too is washable after 72 hours, and that is always a plus for wearable projects..
  • I find the MSRP of around $3.79 for the 4 oz size to be very reasonable, as a little goes a long way.

Cons:

  • The consistency is really runny, which made it hard to get clean “dimensional” effects (again, I could blame this on the nozzle size of the bigger bottle).
  • It comes in different colors, but those colors aren’t very distinguishable from one another (except orange) in the dark. Which means it may not be as nifty in the dark as you might like.
  • I had a hard time coming up with ideas for its use, which makes it a less versatile addition to my crafty stash than I would like to have (but the glow-in-the-dark bottles on my paint shelf is kind of cool).

So what do you think? What are some projects you could see trying this Tulip Glow in the Dark fabric paint out on? Or have you used it with great success? Or mess? Share away with us!

Tulip Soft Fabric Paint

Reported by Jessica Ripley

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon.com affiliate program.

I’m a big fan of Tulip Dimensional Fabric Paint. But while stopping by the aisle in my local hobby store to pick up some new colors, I couldn’t help but notice their soft fabric paint too. It’s described on the bottle as drying flat and flexible, is available in various finish options such as velveteen, matte, metallic, neon, glitter, and pearl (my favorite), comes in a multitude of colors, and lo and behold can be washed too! I simply had to pick up a few bottles to try for myself.

I decided to test out the Soft Fabric Paint on two projects, a rough textured canvas tote, and a much softer jersey t-shirt. I was extremely pleased with its performance on both these different materials.

The paint itself has a great consistency, comparable to finger paint. It is neither too runny to work with (that is, it stays on the brush until you’re ready to apply it), nor too thick to spread around. Though it does soak through the fabric just a bit (depending on the type of fabric it is used on, so be sure to use a piece of cardboard in between layers of fabric as they suggest), it also keeps a fairly crisp line. Little wisps around the edges here and there are due to my brush strokes and not the paint at all.

A very little on the brush also goes a long way, and I’m always all for products that stretch my dollar. The color is also very vibrant and rich; the photo above shows the coverage of just one coat of red. And any of us who have painted a room any shade of red before can appreciate how great that is!

I was just as pleased with how well one color goes over another with hardly any effort. I had expected to have to do one or two coats to accomplish the look I wanted, however the photo below shows just one coat of green painted directly on top of the red.

You can also see a bit of the shine in the red that is found in the pearl finish available. There is a bit of glitter that is well mixed throughout the paint, and I really loved the sparkle that it brought to my design.

Below is a photo of the project once the paint has dried, about 4 hours:

The green paint I chose came in the velveteen finish, which is supposed to be brought out by applying steam to the design once it has dried. Though I did not notice a huge difference from the way it looked from before it was steamed to after, I did appreciate the soft texture and feel of this finish as compared to the pearl:

For my next project, I wanted to test out the paint’s ability to do what I would expect to be the ultimate purpose of fabric paint, standing up to a trip through the washer and dryer. To do so I picked up a jersey fabric t-shirt and set to work using a stencil I created.

To begin, I followed the directions on the bottle and first pre-washed and dried the shirt (making note that I should not use fabric softener). I would imagine the purpose of this step would be much like pre-washing fabric for a sewn project… you don’t want any shrinkage that occurs after the first washing to ruin the integrity of your design.

On the jersey fabric, I noticed that the paint did not go quite as far as it had on the rough canvas bag. Mostly because it did soak through to my cardboard protection underneath, and took another coat to get the desired effect. However, it worked with a simple stencil (made from a scrap piece of cardstock) wonderfully, and did not bleed through the edges.

As far as the colors I chose go, I also should note that the black (in matte finish) was wonderfully opaque. It made it very easy to add borders and detail to both designs using just a touch.

Per the bottle’s instructions, I waited a full 72 hours before attempting to wash the shirt. I also turned the shirt inside out before washing, however that was the only precaution I took. Thrown in with some towels and jeans and washed on a warm / cool cycle, then dried as normal… the results were:

Before Washing:

And after washing:

Hardly any fading on the washed design at all! The white also stayed white with no notice of that black outline mixing in. I was definitely impressed. (P.S. no trace of washed off paint on the towels or jeans either).

Overall, I can tell you that I will not only be adding more of the dimensional fabric paint to my stash, but gathering a collection of colors of the soft fabric paint as well. Taking into account how long I can imagine a bottle lasting for such a reasonable cost (the MSRP is around $1.70 each); decorating bags, clothing, hand towels, bibs… the possibilities are absolutely endless.

Pros:

  • A wide variety of colors and finishes are available to compliment almost any project.
  • The paint is the perfect consistency, not too runny and not too thick, it is extremely easy to work with (even for novice painters like myself).
  • It is indeed washable, with no noticeable fading or damage when washed with a normal load of laundry. The fact I don’t have to do a special load on the gentle cycle is a big plus in my book.

Cons:

  • It does bleed through fabric a bit (the more it does depends on the type of fabric used) so be sure to use a piece of protective cardboard so as not to ruin your project.
  • I didn’t notice a huge difference in the velveteen finish compared to the matte after taking the extra step of applying steam from an iron, but it was a bit softer looking.
  • Final results take patience, take into account drying (4 hours) and ability to wash (72 hours) time to get to the final result.

All in all I’d highly recommend this product as an addition to your stash.

How about you? Have you used the Tulip Soft Fabric paint in any projects you’d like to share? Tips and ideas are always more than welcome. We love to hear from you!