Thursday, October 17, 2013

Batik! (Part 1)

This is a project from my 101 Things in 2013 list.  I haven't counted it as finished yet, because we're not finished yet, but I thought I'd share our progress so far.

We actually planned to do this about 3 years ago, and already had all the supplies for the first step:

- white fabric (we collected a couple pieces from the Field's Fabrics bargain bin)
- soy wax (Hobby Lobby)
- natural hair bristle brushes (you can find these anywhere, but I think I found these on clearance at Jo-Ann's) (you'll need these so they don't melt in the wax)
- tarps!
- a container to microwave the wax in - we had an old Tupperware (like '70s-green old)

We laid the tarp out on my parents' kitchen counter and laid a piece of fabric over it.  Once the wax was melted, we painted our designs over it.  Batik is a wax-resist form of dyeing - like crayons and watercolor paints, except on fabric.

We are dorks.  But we felt very artistic with the foot-long paint brushes.

For the next step, we needed:

- Soda Ash - helps the dye to stick - can be found at any craft store
- Fabric Dye.  We used liquid RIT brand and did not dilute it.
- As many tarps as you have pieces of fabric
- gloves!

I have no pictures of the dyeing process, because my hands were covered in gloves and dye, but we had a table outside covered in a tarp.  The fabric, after being soaked in a soda ash bath for 20 minutes, was laid out on top of the tarp.  We then took more brushes, and just poured the dye and spread it around on the fabric.  No real science.  When the whole fabric was covered, we rinsed the drips off the edge of the tarp and then folded it up so that the fabric was completely ensconced.  Repeat with the other pieces.  We left the tarps in my parents' basement laundry room for the afternoon and overnight.

(For the record: we had one piece that we weren't sure would take dye because it's a synthetic fabric.  We put this one in a bucket with slightly diluted purple dye and left it overnight.)

The next morning, we took each piece and rinsed them out in the utility tub.  Now's the tricky part.  The dye has to be machine washed and dried to set, but we can't do that until the wax is ironed out (because it will hurt the washer and dryer), but we can't iron out the wax until it's been dried - and we didn't dare drape it over anything to dry until it had been washed.  Quite the conundrum.  We ended up hand-washing them in Woolite, then doing a triple rinse outside, and then hanging them up to dry like so:

The synthetic fabric really didn't turn out so well:

The next step is to iron out the wax (place the fabric between layers of newspaper and iron over that, replacing the newspaper until it comes out clean), then machine wash and dry the fabric.  Then we can use the fabric for stuff!

I'm so excited to get to the next part!

Love and Sodium Carbonate,
Leah Joy

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