Monday, June 10, 2024

Untitled, Part 5

Untitled, Part 5
the dyeing and wax removal

One of the most rewarding parts of batik is applying the dye, and it was finally time! 

First was deciding how many of each little square I would need in each color.  For the yellow, I only needed 6, but I made a few extra.  And, for my special 6, I wanted them to each have different colors for the motifs.  And, for the motif to show, I would not select any of the same color as the dye used at this point. So, I selected anything but yellow.  Since I needed so few pieces, I cut off the 6 individual squares from the pages, which left me with quite small pieces to work with. Here they are after boiling out the wax, rinsing, and hanging on the line outside.
The greens were slightly bigger.  I was able to cut off strips from the pages.  I would need a little over 100 for the project, so I was able to sample most of the colors.  
The aqua colors were even bigger pieces because I needed over 300 of those.  The cut out shapes are getting bigger and odder.  However, when I finally got to the quilting stage of this project, it would become so much easier with larger pieces and less edges.  The tiny yellows would be the hardest to quilt, and the biggest pieces became the easiest ones to quilt.  So, I was trying to optimize area, and minimize the size of the edges. 
Last will be the bright blue dyes. I needed over 700 of these little square motifs. And these were the biggest part of the pages that I prepared. They also took up the most room on my dyeing surface, a reclaimed sliding glass door. This took many days because there was a lot of work, and relatively little surface area to do the dyeing. I arranged the pieces flat on the glass surface and applied the dye with a big paint brush. The brushing of the dye also allowed me to brush out air bubbles that invariably arise. The wax on the fabric puffs up a bit thicker than the surrounding fabric. Those air bubbles can cause some interesting texture when dyeing, but that is not the look I was looking for here. 
The dyeing surface, with wax and dye still on the pages.

Note the difference between the above photo and the one below it.  The lower photo has the wax boiled out and the fabric has been rinsed and is drying on the line.  All the colors finally pop!

After all the dyes had been applied, each page is left to process overnight, and then rinsed with water multiple times.  Next is the wax removal. That part is done in a giant pot of boiling water on my stove in my kitchen.  This was a really big project and it took many days to boil out all the wax. Each piece is slowly lowered into the giant pot of boiling water and swished around with tongs.  Then it is slowly lifted out of the water in an attempt to avoid the wax floating on the surface.  I have a few tricks to help with that!  

I was able to boil out 4 or 5 pages of work before the water became too concentrated with excess dye.  Then each fabric page was taken outside and dried on the line and rinsed again with water from a hose.  This is the stage where you can feel and see any clumps of residue wax and it just rolls off the surface when brushed with your hand.  Next they were washed with soap and hot water in my washing machine, and then dried again.  I also let my big pots of boiling water cool before disposal, because then I can skim the wax off the surface of the water before tossing the water down the drain.  I didn't want the wax clogging up my drains! ps. It takes a long time for a giant pot of water to cool...

Finally my stack of fabrics to make the project!

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