Thursday, April 21, 2011

April Tart Kit: Soy Wax Batik

This month's Tart kit gives you the supplies to try soy wax batik, a relatively simple way to make batiked cloth at home. You will be treating PFD fabrics with soda ash, stamping with wax and dyeing to apply color. This process can be simple with one layer of wax and one coloring. Or it can be more more complex with multiple layers of wax and multiple colors. It is up to you!

Before you use your fabric it must be pretreated with the soda ash to allow the dye to color the fabric. The soda ash in the kit can be dissolved in 4 cups warm water. Soak your fabric for 15 minutes and lay or hang to dry. Do not rinse the fabric. The remaining soda ash mixture can then be saved for more fabric if you store it in an air tight jar. In the meantime, prepare a padded stamping surface with several layers of newspaper. When the fabric is dry after the soda ash treatment, lay it flat on your prepared surface. Use the parchment paper to prevent newspaper ink from getting on your fabric.

You have been given about a quarter pound of soy wax and a small aluminum pan in which to melt it. Set your aluminum pan with the wax in a small frying pan with about a 1/2 inch of water and heat carefully. Soy wax melts at about 160 degrees so be careful not to burn it.

You can stamp with many different types of tools. Look around your house for interesting shapes. The soy wax will not damage the tool. It can be washed and used for its original use. It just has to be something that can get hot. We put in a plastic fork if you can find nothing else.

When the soy wax is melted, you can begin stamping. If you are using metal tools, allow them to warm to the temperature of the wax by placing them in the wax for a few minutes. As you stamp, you will want the wax to soak through the fabric rather than sit on the top of the fabric. If the wax isn't soaking in, it isn't warm enough.
This wax layer is "protecting" the color of the fabric which will not color when you add your dye. Use a small paper plate to catch your drips as you move from pan to fabric.

Allow the wax to cool and harden. Meanwhile mix up your dye. The intensity of the color will depend on much powder you use in relation to water. It will not take much to make light color; maybe 1/8 tsp in a 1/2 cup water. Use the latex gloves and a plastic or paper cup and a plastic spoon that can be thrown away later. You do not want to use utensils that will be used for food. If you will be adding multiple layers of wax and color, start light so that each successive color will overdye the one preceding it. If you are going to do one waxing and one color, you could use any intensity you like. The deeper the dye, the more the contrast with the white or light colored fabric base.

Put your waxed fabric into a plastic bag, add the dye mixture, seal the bag and massage the the fabric to completely saturate the fabric. Allow the fabric to batch for at least 4 hours.

When the fabric has batched, carefully pour the liquid dye down the drain and squeeze out the excess liquid from your batiked piece. Allow the fabric to dry flat or hang to dry. Once the fabric is dry, you can stamp again and follow the cycle of stamp, cool, color, and dry. The following photo shows a second layer of wax layed over the first. In this instance the green color will be "protected" in the next dyeing.

When you have finished waxing and dyeing, rinse the fabric under cold water until the water is clear.Take the piece to your ironing board which has been covered with several layers of newsprint, newspaper, or another type of paper that will absorb the wax as you heat it. Removing the wax will take some time and patience. Lay your fabric between two or more sheets of paper and press with a hot dry iron. You will see the wax become absorbed by the paper. You may need to replace the paper if you have a great deal of wax.

The last of the wax can be removed by detergent and boiling water. Fill your sink with very hot water and detergent and agitate the fabric. Rinse by pouring boiling water over the fabric. The soy wax will not harm your plumbing.

Once the wax is fully removed, press again. It may be slightly stiff, but that is the nature of batik. Enjoy using your own uniquely designed fabric.

The dyes in the kit were chosen to be side by side on the color wheel so that you can overdye with both and not get a muddy brown. You may choose to use other dyes or mix the powders themselves to get a third color. Below are examples of two overdyed pieces. The left one started as the avocado and was overdyed with the blue. The right piece was dyed with the blue first and overdyed with the avocado.

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