Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hot Wax!

After one failed attempt a week-and-a-half ago, today I had a small success! This is the first batik I have done in 30 years.
I thought, originally, that I might like to do batiks of constellations, and my first was going to be Orion. But woe to the artist who sets out to do such work as this with only half the proper tools, and a couple of kids breathing down her neck while she tries to get down to business! Poor Orion was such an epic fail, I decided against wasting good dye on the less-than-stellar results and put the piece away.
In the interim, I ordered a hot plate and a Bunsen burner. In order to get the best results, the wax has to be really hot. Once it's removed from the pot, it begins to cool down, and there's nothing like the intense open flame of a Bunsen burner to keep the wax at the best possible consistency. And all these things must be in close proximity the the piece being worked on.
I found a French tjanting on eBay, just like the ones I used in high school when working on my Perseus and Medusa piece, and with the proper heating sources at hand, it works like a dream, just like I remember from 30 years ago.
I didn't want to waste a fresh piece of fabric on an experiment, and figured that if today's piece came out as blobby and gross as Orion did I wouldn't have lost much. I just needed to practice and get a feel for the technique again. So, I took Orion and ironed the wax out of the fabric as best I could and started drawing freehand on the less-than-perfect piece of cloth with my tjanting. I'm pleased with the result.
I've just boiled the wax out, did a final wash/rinse, and pressed the piece. (Pics of this piece, sans wax, will be posted when it's dry. For something that began with a "ruined" piece of fabric, this came out really well!)

And despite the fact that this was supposed to be a totally random, abstract piece, I seem to have depicted a face! I have no idea how this happened, but -- can you see it?

Another inspiration subconsciously given by Grant, I think, though it didn't occur to me until well after the fact. "Hot Wax" planted a seed and got me considering batik again, in a roundabout sort of way.

A great deal of "hot wax" gets used in the creation of batiks. It is applied to the fabric, hot and liquid, and permeates the fibers, cools and solidifies, and "resists" the dye when it goes into the vat. All the white areas were painted with hot wax, and stayed white while the dye settled on the unwaxed places. But wax being wax, it cracks when you stuff the piece into the dye bucket, and a little bit gets through, and creates fine lines of color in the white areas. Just enough to enhance the look of the finished piece, and give it that characteristic "crackled" look.

I'm looking forward to doing more of these, and think, quite by accident, that I have hit upon a style that suits me better than trying to depict constellations! Happy, happy, joy, joy!!!!!!


Kathleen said...

That looks great, no wonder you're pleased with it! x K

judy said...

Hey Paula... looks great.
I've always bought my tjantings from the RISD store or Dharma Trading.