Sunday, May 19, 2024

Untitled, Part 3

Untitled, Part 3

After completing the application of the wax, it is time for removing most of the dye.  I worked outside on my driveway to disperse the fumes.  It also helps to work in the sun because the sun helps with the bleach discharge process.  Unfortunately my driveway had a good amount of shade, so I kept having to move my work space as the sun moved across the sky. (Note: I lost some of those trees, and now I very much miss the shade they provided!)

I added one piece of waxed fabric at a time, into a big rectangular storage box which had the bleaching agent already in it.  I used about 2 gallons of water mixed with 1 cup of bleach.  While it is reasonably dilute bleach, it is not anything you want to soak your hands in.  I used gloves and tongs to move the fabric around and then watched the colors lighten up! As it got closer to the bleaching out the color, I would remove it and place it on the concrete, and then add another piece of batiked fabric.  I used water from a hose to rinse the fabric, trying to keep the runoff on the concrete so that it wouldn't harm my plants or lawn. If it didn't look light enough after drying, I would repeat the process.

This process involves a lot of sitting and waiting, and also tending to the fabric at just the right time. Unfortunately, we were having a record setting heat wave while I was doing this, so the work was pretty brutal. I had outdoor fans and ice water, and I waited in the shade while my work was in the sun.  When I would feel the effects of the heat, I would halt the process and go inside to the air conditioning and lie down on the cool tile floor. It took a lot more time working this way than I would have liked, but it needed to be done.  I still can't believe that I don't have any photos of all of this.  I was concentrating so hard on getting the work done, that I forgot to document it.  Sorry about that!

The results:
The darker parts, the squares and circle motifs, have wax on them here; thus protecting the beautiful and intense colors safely under the wax. 

I gradually transitioned each piece from the concrete, where it kept trying to blow away, to my zipline in the backyard. I would give it a second thorough rinse and then let it dry outside for at least a day or two. Then I would start again.  Remember, I had 22 of these to do.  This set is almost halfway there. 

Some colors bleached better than others.  I also did not want the wax to crack, so I tried to minimize the folding and crinkling of the fabric while it had wax on it. Some of the colors were so resistant to bleaching, and had to be processed multiply times, and have the cracks to show for it!

The inability to remove more of the orange and golden colors will affect the next step, the overdyeing.  However, it is part of the charm of having a slightly blended color with the next layer.  It makes the original clear and bright colors pop a little bit more. So, it's all good!

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Untitled, Part 2

Untitled, Part 2

In the entire project, this is easily the most relaxing and contemplative step, adding the wax. Notice the pencil lines in the top of the photo? This is a first for me.  I know how big I want the finished piece to be, so I am using the pencil lines to make sure I have enough room around the motif to accomplish the task.  The pencil lines will eventually disappear throughout the process, but as long as the stamped square is basically in the middle, I am good!

This is my wax pot, an electric skillet.  It is set on the lowest setting, just enough heat to melt the wax. I love seeing the reflection of the window on the surface!  Here is my stamping tool, a piece of a cardboard rectangular box, that when stamped produces a square.  I have used it on many, many projects with this motif.

After stamping the squares, I add circles to the centers. Then repeat, a lot. 
Here is a shot of "one page".  It has 56 motifs stamped in wax and held in place on a wooden frame with giant thumb tacks. I will need 20 more of these for my project, but I am going to add some extras, just in case anything goes wrong, for a total of 22 pages of little stamped squares and circles. And, all of this intense and beautiful color! Most of it will disappear in the next step, where I remove the dye from everything that is not stamped in wax. Only the waxed designs will keep their color.  

Here are a few of my previous projects with this motif.
Cookie Cutter Condos


Monday, May 06, 2024

Untitled, as of yet...

Untitled, as of yet....

This project began 2 years ago. And I am finding that writing about it is equally as daunting as making it. And, I didn't want to write about it until I knew it could be done. This one was taking a risk, and on a large scale.

It started as a concept, which I will get to at a later post. For now, it was all about....

The math.
It wasn't hard, except that I kept getting lost in the 3 dimensions and overthinking it.  If I could have realized the simplicity of the system, I think I could have gotten there.  So, I went to my go-to, my son. I explained the project and he immediately knew how to do it.  So, not only did he calculate the numbers for me, he also explained his reasoning, succinctly, and then it all made sense.  But the number he calculated was so large, it was almost unbelievable. I was going to need over 1200 little quilted blocks to make this thing! Nuts!!

That is a lot of fabric. And, a lot of fabric to dye. I was easily able to extract the numbers for each section of the project into yardage. I decided to use pieces that would easily fit on my batik frames. And, I had a roll of plain white fabric 58" wide to use up, so I was good to go.  I made sure to include room for error and have some excess between all the pieces and enough to attach to the frames.

These are the photos after the first cold water rinse, hanging on the line.  They will still need to be washed with soap and hot water in the washing machine.  

The dyeing:  I measured the dye, the soda ash, and water, and mixed in the blender. Then I put my wet and wrung out fabric in a bucket and poured the dye mix on top. Wearing gloves, I scrunched the fabric around a lot in the dye mixture until the fabric was completely coated. The fabric is squeezed lightly to remove the excess dye and carefully placed inside a ziploc plastic baggie.  Then the bags are set in the sun.  I usually flip them every hour or so, and leave them in the bags until the next day.

With a lot of colors and cleanup between each one, it is a lot of work. And, I did it in the summer because the dyes work better at warmer temperatures.  These are from the summer of 2022.

And, keep in mind, the next step is the batik, and most of the color you see here will be removed with a bleach discharge step after the batik...