Hey there, kids! When my students were working on figure drawing a couple weeks ago, I got the notion that I'd introduce Keith Haring as our next Artist of the Month (granted, the month is almost over...so it looks like we'll be chatting about him next month, ahem). I've been wanting to do some batiking for a while...and the designs of Haring seemed like a good fit with this technique.
Have ya'll ever batiked fabric before? I have a love for all things textiles (except for big loom weaving. I had to do one big ole weaving on a loom for a textiles class in college. I warped that thing all wonky and my finished weaving looked like something my cat threw up. Stupid project brought my grade and GPA to a new low...that and the C- I got in...wait for it...karate). I was first introduced to batik in high school and I've played around with it on and off since then. Back then I created weird wall hangings (that have more than likely met their fate in the bottom of a trash can) but this time I decided to create fabric for a new dress!
Now in the past, I always drew my design on the fabric in pencil and then traced those lines in wax. The problem with that is the wax then seals in the pencil lines. I never liked being able to see those pencil lines in my finished piece. So I got the idea that I'd draw my design on paper, trace in sharpie, place that under my fabric and trace that in wax. I know, you'd think I woulda thought of that years ago. I've never been mistaken for a genius, ya'll.
When I batik, I use a double broiler and a wax combo of paraffin wax (found at the grocery store in the area where they keep the canning supplies) and bee's wax (check your craft store). I forget why it's important to use a combo of both waxes but if you solely use one or the other it doesn't end well. I think it's because the paraffin is pretty flaky stuff that can crack off the fabric and defeat the purpose. So combining it with the bee's wax (which is expense and a pinch difficult to remove when used alone) helps. However, I could totally be making 100% of this up, so batikin' pros, I'm counting on ya'll to correct me in the comments.
In the kitchen, next to the double broiler, I laid down some cardboard, my Haring drawing and placed my fabric on top. From there I set about tracing my designs in wax. To apply the wax, I use an old bristle paint brush. I have one of those tjanting tools for applying the wax but I can't seem to work the thing. Any suggestions? I played around with it for a bit and just switched back to my paint brush. I figured if I didn't know how to pronounce the name of the tool, I had no right using it.
When you are batiking, you've gotta make sure that the wax doesn't just simply sit on top of the fabric but soaks all the way through. If it doesn't, it won't resist the dye.
Once I finished batiking about three yards of muslin (I know, it took foreverness!), I set about dying it. I'm a little bummed I didn't use a more concentrated dye so the color of the fabric is more charcoal gray than black. To remove the wax, I ran it under some super hot water in my sink which was a big, fat, hairy mistake. That simply spread the wax all over the fabric and coated the inside of my sink. I also tried just throwing it in the dryer on the hottest temp which seemed to only soften the wax momentarily. Finally I just ironed the wax out between sheets of newsprint paper. Which is what I shoulda done in the first place. But my laziness was flaring up so I attempted those other non-functional options first.
Oh! By the way, the way, the dye I use is Procion which can be purchased through Dharma. It's the very best dye ever and the folks at Dharma will answer your questions if you've got any. They also have killer dying directions on their website that tell you everything except to check for holes in your gloves before using them. Cuz if you don't, you might end up with a fuschia middle finger. That might be good info to include, Dharma. Just sayin.
The other piece of fabric I batiked and dyed was inspired by Haring's rather tribal looking doodles and designs. I love how vibrant this piece turned out...but I'm not sure I like how it looks with the gray batik. These two might not end up in the same ensemble...but whatever happens, I'll keep you posted.
So now I'm on a batikin' kick. I've got several other things in my little head that I want to batik-ify. And, after seeing Phyl's post on an alternative batik method for kids, I really want to introduce this art to my students. Have ya'll tried batik with children? Did you use a traditional method or something more safe like Phyl? I'd love to hear your thoughts, ya'll!
Until then, have a great week!