Extreme Science: Penny Shine

What you will need:

  • White T-Shirt
  • Various colors of Sharpie ™ markers
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Rubber bands
  • SOLO™ cups
  • Vinyl gloves
  • Adult supervision


  1. You may want to wear some vinyl gloves to keep the ink from getting all over your hands.  Also, be careful to cover your work space and don’t get any ink on tour clothes as it is permanent.
  2. Stretch your t-shirt over the top of a SOLO cup and place a rubber band around the top edge of the cup to hold the shirt in place.
  3. Use various colors of Sharpie markers to create a pattern on the t-shirt over the top of the cup.
  4. Slowly drip small amounts of Isopropyl alcohol onto the color spots and watch as they grow and spread over the t-shirt. 
  5. Repeat as desired to achieve desired pattern.

What is going on?

Sharpie markers a labeled as a permanent marker and cannot be washed out using water.  The ink is alcohol based and not water soluble.  Since it is alcohol based, the ink is soluble in isopropyl alcohol.  When the alcohol is dripped over the ink spots, the ink is mixed with the isopropyl alcohol and is spread out and absorbed into the surrounding material leaving some really cool patterns.

Try this:

Instead of using the SOLO cups, try placing random colors all over your shirt, then twist your shirt up and stretch your rubber bands around the shirt in random places,  Then drip your Isopropyl alcohol all over the shirt to see what kinds of patterns you can create.  Get creative and post some pics of your creations in the comment section below.  Have fun and make sure to clean up your mess when you are done.

Radical Rick

Extreme Science