Friday, November 12, 2010

Understanding Batiking Process Part I

Batiking is a method of applying dyes to cloth in the form of designs, and is accomplished by the use of wax. It is based on the principle that the wax, wherever it is applied, will prevent the dye penetrating the cloth. For example, let us dip a piece of cloth in a blue dye bath. The cloth will become blue. But if hot wax is applied to half of the cloth, and then dipped, only half of it will be blue, while the waxed half will remain white, as it will prevent the dye from soaking into that part of the cloth.

Let us say that we wish to divide a piece of cloth into three equal parts, making a white section, a blue section, and a red section. We paint two-thirds of our cloth with wax and dip it into a blue dye bath. We then remove the wax, and find our cloth one-third blue and two-thirds white. The blue section and one of the white sections are now covered with wax, and the piece again dipped, but this time into a bath of red dye. When the wax is removed, one-third is white, one-third red, and the other third blue. This is the process of batiking.

Practically all silks and cottons lend themselves to the process, although the beginner would do well to experiment with medium weight pongee or thin, unbleached muslin. Crêpe de Chine, georgette, and chiffon are also effective, but taffeta and non-washable silks usually make poor materials to work with, due to their artificial stiffening.
But let us carry the entire process through to completion, studying each step as we go, and consider the various tools and apparatus needed to complete each part of the work. The cloth is given a thorough washing before any work is started. This will shrink it and remove any artificial stiffening. Allow it to dry, and then give it a good ironing. We are now ready to draw our design.

It is usually best to make the design on paper be-fore attempting to apply it to the cloth. A color pat-tern should also be made to act as a guide in the dyeing process. Place the cloth on a flat table with the design over it, and make a tracing of the design on the material. There are a number of ways to do this work. It may be traced with carbon paper and pencil. Some experts use a wheel perforator, which pricks the outline of the design on the paper pattern.

This is then placed over the cloth and charcoal or chalk rubbed into the holes. But for the novice, the usual methods of pencil tracing are best. After the design has been transferred to the material, it is stretched on a frame. If an old picture frame can be found, it will serve splendidly. The chapter on "Hooked Rugs" will tell you how this may be done. However, such a frame can he easily made out of four strips of wood long enough to hold the piece. These may be clamped with small wood clamps, bought at any five-and-ten-cent store, or they may be nailed or bound with cord.

If the piece is extraordinarily large, it may be waxed on a table covered with thin, smooth paper. The frame method is preferred and should be used whenever possible, as the fabric should be kept clear of any contact while being waxed. If this is not done, there is a possibility of the wax sticking to the under side and cracking when lifted. If this occurs, the color will run into the cracks and ruin the design when the piece is dyed.

Our next consideration is the preparation of the dyes we wish to use. If a color pattern has been made, showing each color to be used, this should be studied for the necessary colors. Very good effects may be obtained by using only one color, and the more simple we make our first experiments, the more satisfactory results we will gain.

Any good commercial dyes may be used if handled according to the instructions given by the makers. Specially prepared batik dyes, which carry with them full instructions, may be bought at any art supply store.

To prepare the dye for use, a pan large enough to hold your cloth should be obtained. This can be an agate or enamel pan, although the former will be best. Heat a quart of water in the pan to boiling point, and then add a package of the dye. If batik dyes are used, a half teaspoon will be sufficient, as this product is more concentrated than the usual household dyes. It should be allowed to boil for about ten minutes. After cooling, it may be poured into a fruit jar or any glass container. To test the color, pour a little into your dye pan, and dip a scrap of your material into it. When the dye has dried, it will be several shades lighter than when it is wet. By holding the wet material to a light you can arrive at some idea of what the color will be when the material is dry. If the color is too dark, it can be lightened by adding water.

It is impossible in one chapter such as this to give the reader instructions on the mixing of colors. It might be well, however, to point out the fact that there are three primary colors—yellow, blue, and red —and that through the proper mixing of these colors any other color in the spectrum can be obtained.

Colors need not be mixed before dyeing, as other colors may be had by dyeing one color over the other. For instance, if the material is dipped in a red dye bath, and then in a yellow bath, it would turn out orange.

The wax is now prepared. A small agate pan about four inches deep is needed for this, as well as somemeans for heating the wax. A gas or alcohol adjust-able lamp is good for this purpose. If one of these cannot be obtained, an improvised beater can be made with an electric iron. The iron is turned upside down, supported by books pressed against its handle, and the pan set on it. The wax must be carefully watched, as overheating causes it literally to "go up in smoke. Source ::

To Be Continued...

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