Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tri-Chem Liquid Embroidery

Good morning. Gold Country Sis Tina blogging today. I am going to share a rummage sale find from last week. I went to a great rummage sale put on by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)Women in Georgetown, California. They have an indoor sale in February and a great big outdoor sale in September. I always get great stuff.

Today I am sharing a favorite of the Gold Country Girls and their Mom from the 1960's, Tri-Chem Liquid Embroidery. I was lucky enough to find a treasure trove of the old stuff at the rummage sale.
Our mother discovered the wonderful world of Tri-Chem when i was in my early teens. We had great fun using the many lovely colors. I am not sure, but I think perhaps our mom sold it for a while. Tri-Chem was sold at house parties, much like Tupperware, except you got to make something for free while you were there, so I think it was more fun.
At the sale Friday I found a brochure about the business which showed hostess gifts, various products such as design books, and also offered employment for an enterprising housewife. (Which our mom was, definitely, she also sold World Book Encyclopedias and Beeline Fashions at various times.)
I love the way they appealed to the artist inside of the party-goer. Do-it-yourself pleasure! Who wouldn't want some of that action?
And a profitable career too. I am so there!
Just look at the fun these ladies are having making their colorful items, with the help of the cheerful instructor. On the far left is a blue and white tin which was a hostess gift and which I also found at the rummage sale. The tin came with the tube holder which is in the middle of the picture, and also probably several tubes of paint of your choice.
Here is a shot in the brochure of some of the hostess gifts.
Here is a picture of my tin. It is missing a handle, but was full of paints and patterns and the lid is actually an embroidery hoop except it is solid with absorbent material to do your liquid embroidery on.
Here is a shot of my tin with all the paints that came with it. A lot of them have hardened up, but I still am excited to have found them. There are a lot of nice colors there, and also some sparkly paint too.
This is a lovely little 31 page book from 1968 which contains instructions and a lot of tips. It tells you that you can use it on china, pottery, wood, metal, plastics, metal foil, all kinds of materials other than fabric. There are many techniques included on blending colors, spot removal, shading, etc.
I like how they suggest not only using iron-on patterns, but also using your own artistic ability to create your own drawings to embroider.
As an artist I appreciated the inclusion of a color wheel.
Here is a page showing the wonderful bright colors you can paint with. Color is fun and makes you feel cheerful. A good winter activity to help you avoid SADS.
One page suggests: Tri-Chem is fun for everyone! If you teach art, craft, home economics or occupational therapy, you will find that there are countless uses for TRI-CHEM in your work. If you're a Cub or Scout Leader, Campfire or 4H Director, recreation, club or church group activity Counselor, TRI-CHEM will supply the answer to "can't we do something different?"
Here is a better shot of the lovely colors I came home with from the rummage sale.
I also got several patterns. This is a large book of hot iron transfers of State birds. I just might have to embroider the lovely quail for California, shown below. The idea is to make them into 8 inch quilt blocks. Maybe someday...
I love the State Birds transfers. They are all beautiful and it also was very informative. I didn't know seven states all have the same State bird, the Cardinal, five states have the Mockingbird as theirs, and four the Mountain Bluebird! That was quite interesting to me.
This pattern is for a lovely tablecloth that would be good for a fall dinner. This is the center bouquet.
This is a Peacock picture, underneath the instruction page is the actual fabric to paint on. It is large, 12 by 19 inches, and "ready to frame or mount"
I really like this rooster, and think he would be great on an apron. I really like aprons!
At the same sale I found completed Tri-Chem items, so the lady who donated the paints apparently was busy. Above are two pillowcases with what I think are apple blossoms. Perfect for spring.
Another pillow case with red roses and lace.
And finally, since we have daffodils blooming away at my home in Kelsey at this time, I will close with the bright yellow trumpets. This piece wasn't made into anything, so I guess it will be my choice. Maybe throw pillows or a dresser scarf.
I hope you enjoyed seeing my Tri-Chem finds. It was a little walk in the past for me.


Lorlore said...

Great find Tina!! I remember Tri Chem well!

Heidi said...

Interesting. I have seen pillowcases done with that stuff at thrift stores but never knew there was an actual name for it. Thanks for the education!

Heidi Ann said...

Of course I remember it, too. How neat to find all that stuff - and thank you for the informative post about this rather forgotten and unusual craft from our past.

Jennifer D said...

Tina, thank you for the memories.
My Mom had that exact set of paints. She kept it up in her closet out of my reach and eventually they dried out I think. She made some great stuff after going to the party but fizzled out in the end I guess.
I had forgotten all about those paints. Thanks again and great find!

yosemite faith said...

this is something brand new to me - love it. i have created lots of stuff with paint pens from the art store - loved this post. aren't you lucky!

Barbara at Oodles and Oodles said...

I thought I was possibly the only person to have grown up with Tri-Chem Liquid Embroidery! It was all the rage in our neighborhood for a while. I don't ever remember seeing any pieces that turned out as nicely as yours, though. Most of ours were pretty regrettable!

Twyla and Lindsey said...

I remember when this became popular! My neighbor got into it and I remember thinking she was cheating. Some people now use these pieces to actually embroider over. Twyla

Pamela said...

I remember Tri-Chem, a neighbor sold it. I was too young and too broke to afford much of it but dearly loved what I owned. I did the designs on the backs of several denim shirts using it, among loads of other things.

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Marilyn Bell
i used alot of your products about 10 years ago and i had all the big kit and transfers, everything and i mean everything.I have been tryin' to purchase it here but i can not find it here at all. Please send me a book telling me what kits are available and where i can purchase it here as email addy is or you can call me at (613) 205-0606 I live at 109-195 Carss Ave. Smiths Falls Ontario Canada K7A-4B2

Yvonne said...

I learned this when I was younger but there was another kind that we also used. It looked like fat pens with a bubble on the end that you depressed to get the paint to flow. Any idea who made those?

Courtney said...

My great grandmother gave me a hot iron transfer book called Dolls of the World but she was missing the color chart. We have the numbers in the book does anyone know of a way to get a chart?

NanaSue03 said...

Wow!! Am searching the web to try to find tips and pliers for the paint that I just came across from atleast 30 years ago and was very happy to find your blog. Any hints on where Trichem and "stuff" can be bought locally in Salem OR.? I also have the blue and white can you showed. Thanks for the memories.

lizziewriter said...

oh thank you for your story and pictures... what a nostalgia trip! My aunt used to sell these paints -- I never realized they were "party" merchandise but anyway she often gave me some... I had the blue caddy that you show there, and I have recently replaced a bigger one via a tag sale (I must have sold my own old one, at a tag sale, lol) and am hoping to try the paints and that some of them will be good.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this intriguing post. I've been trying for a while to find info about Tri Chem Embroidery Paint. I believe my grandmother who was in her 50s in the 1950s, used them. Does/did the paint dry with dimension to them to resemble actual embroidery? I've seen somewhere else online that they are not made anymore, it that true? Any info would be appreciated you may contact me at

letthemwin said...

These merchandise parties were popular among military wives. I was an army brat and my mother was either attending or giving parties to sell stuff from Tupperware to the paints in your blog.
I have searching for years for these paints and this morning finally hit the jackpot on a google search.
I have spent most of the day researching and ran across your blog.

Thanks for all the pics, my mother had the same tin but in a brown and gold color motif.

ShabbyKat said...

Thank you for this post.
My father's family was somehow involved in the ownership or leadership of distributors. I found a booklet from Hood's Colorama held in Minnesota in the 70's, my grandmother was called "Mom Hood" by everyone and died in her sleep the first night of this convention. I am looking for more info about the company.
I know that there were levels of achievement, one being queen and that roses seemed a big part. I recently found a red plastic box with a rose embossed on it that I am sure used to hold the paints

Anonymous said...

i used to use these alot got out of it and now im back into them im older and it keeps me busy and my granddaughters love it im having trouble with the tips the newer ones dont seam to fit but i love doing this but i cant find anything here in my town i se e bay alot tri chem and artex

Donna B said...

OMG I use to sell Tri-Chem there use to be Artex before Tri-Chem.. I use to do partys and did quite well in it and this was in the late 70's.. You found a gem with this.. the company was really great if you had any problems with your tubes of paint they would replace it..How nice to see this again..

AndreaA said...

I still have my Tri Chem Embroidery paints from the 70's. It is the blue can like yours. I also have Artex set and some Vogarts that you use to be able to buy at Franks. Those tips also fit the Artex paint but I need some TriChem tips. Do you have any idea where to get them at a reasonable price. TIA

Theresa said...

I was an Artex rep. and manager, then I converted to Tri-Chem. Enjoyed it very much. Put on many
parties. I still do it at home. I would like to get in contact with a manager, who could use some
pins, ribbons and the like for meetings. I live in Wisconsin so
would like to get in contact with a rep. anywhere. Please respond.

Donna said...

Wow awesome! We have a lot of tri-chem as well that my mother-in-law collected. She passed last September and we are getting ready to do an estate sell. Do you mind my asking how much you paid for everything? Might help us price ours. Thanks so much!

Carol said...

Hi: My name is Carol and I am a tri-chem liquid embroidery instructor in Rochester, n.y. since 1972. I may be able to answer most of your questions. Please feel free to contact me at: email address:
Please give me time to answer your questions as I am not always on the computer every day. Thank you. You can also see some of the items I have at my website:

Lighthouses said...

I sold Tri Chem back in the 70's and enjoyed it and so did my children. I even gave a full set of it to my sister and her family that enjoyed it for years. They had forgotten the tips could be changed. My paints were stolen several years later, and for some reason didn't think about tri chem until i started to quilt again. I did several state bird and flower quilts for friends and family members. Merridee

Anonymous said...

I bought a tablecloth at an estate sale yesterday that someone had daisies and foliage in teapots done in funky 70s colors. Funny how these things turn up.

Betty Hagewood said...

I used to sell trichem products many years ago. Now I can't seem to get it any more. I love to paint and quilt. The paints I have are very old.

Anonymous said...

Where can I buy Trichem in Ottawa?

Anonymous said...

I am extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with
the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?
Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it's rare to see a nice blog like this one today.

Unknown said...

My Aunt got me hooked on the liquid embroidery when I a yong girl I love colors, coloring pillow cases T shirts a lot others stuff I love it then and I wish they have now. They always put me in a very happy place.