I have been meaning to blog about this for quite a while, but hadn't gotten to it yet. So, here it is. How I made Fifty, and Female, and Fearless.
It started from a photograph, that I enlarged and simplified into a sketch. Then I taped it to a sliding glass door, and put my yellow fabric on top of the drawing, and sketched with a pencil the outline of the figure. The dark lines are shadows from a tree. That gave me some idea of how much surface area to cover with wax.
Then downstairs in the batik studio (some people call it a garage), I put the yellow fabric on a discarded glass door, and began covering it with hot wax applied with a wide paint brush. The real trick is getting the wax to cover the fabric completely, but also in a very uniform layer (okay that part is IMPOSSIBLE), but it is the goal. If your brush strokes overlap, the wax is thicker there, and creates problems later.
Then I placed the wax covered cloth on top of the drawing (which is made darker with a black sharpie marker), and painstakingly carve in ALL the lines. It is not too hard to do the straight lines, but carving the curves in wax is difficult. I have tried many different tools for the carving. It needs to be a sharp tool, but you have to be careful not to cut the fabric. Examples include: a screwdriver, a seam ripper, toothpick, bamboo skewer, clay carving tools, and dental tools. It will make your hand cramp, so it is essential to do small portions at a time and take lots of breaks.
Then, when I finished the carving, I mixed up some soda ash in some black dye and water, and brushed it on, letting it soak into the cracks that I carved. After batching 8 to 24 hours, you can rinse in cold water to get rid of excess dye, and then boil out the wax. Then I usually wash in hot water with a cycle of Synthrapol, and another with Retayne.
Next is the blue background which was made with batik also. I painted stripes of wax, then bleach discharged the fabric, and the overdyed the samples in different colors of blue.
I made the central figure a reverse applique, which means I cut the background to fit around the figure. Next they are fused, cut to shape, and then ironed on. Last step is the quilting. I quilted everything except for the letters in the figure, and along all the lines in the background. This last part seemed a bit excessive, but there you are, the process of an art quilter, driven by the relentless muse.
Here's a photo of the quilting. You can see the problem I referred to earlier where the white arrow is pointing. This is showing a place where the black etched line went through a thicker section of wax. When you carve the thicker wax, it cracks around your etched line. The dye seeps in and makes a wider, less defined line.
For more on batik etching, you can see my first attempt here, and another quilt, here.