So I’m trying to learn how to do batik.* If you google batik, you’ll get about a zillion sites that tell you how to do it, which is great. The fact that they all tell you different ways to do it is less great.

So far, I’ve gotten some osm information – but there’s just SO much bumbling along involved (a lot of it costing money – supplies and such) that it’s a little maddening. And yet, there’s been progress also.

So far, here’s what I’ve figured out, and are solid, from our attempts:

– Soy wax rocks the box. It has a low melting point, and can be worked with for more time than any other waxes. It also penetrates the fabric better than any of the other waxes.
– Best tub dying practices for strong color saturation include a long stay in the tub at some point.
– Soda ash, the mordant needed for cold-process dyes, eats up soy wax in the eventuality. (There is also a distinct possibility that Sharpie marker eats soy wax. This is a less-solid truth, tho’.)

What I don’t know includes:

– Batching. Some people say that you can pre-treat the fabric in soda ash and then carry on. They don’t say whether to add soda ash at the end of the tub dye process, tho’. The lovely man at Colorado Wholesale Dye Co** told me on the phone that really, I don’t want to work on fabric that isn’t still wet with the soda ash solution, because it gets crunchies when it dries. I can tell you from experience that the tupperware holding the soda ash solution does indeed have crunchies around the rim.
– If I add the soda ash at the very end, after a long soak in the dye bath, will it still be effective? And what is the longest the fabric can stay in before the ash eats up the yummy soy and spoils the print?
– Agitation – how much do we really need to stir that business? The more the wax cracks, the more the dye from the final tub bath gets into the design painted in the beginning. More agitation = more cracking.*** It also makes more surface for the soda ash to lunch. Can we still achieve a good color with minimal agitation in the dye bath?

All of this means that there will be more test-driving coming up.

In the meanwhile, I found a tiny local shop that sells african prints at a pittance for 6yd pieces, and now I have some really pretty stuff to start my project, so I’m mollified for the moment. But if anyone knows anything about this batiking business, please, pretty please, come talk to me =)

*There’s a Really Cool Project in the works. I just need the fabric.
**Lovely human beings. For reals. I heart them.
***Ha! Isn’t that just like life??

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