I love multi-color batik work, but I do mostly single color stuff. The only reason that I generally do single-color work is that I haven’t found a great way to apply the colors. In the past I have mixed up small batches of the same dye that I use in the tub bath and hand-painted them onto the fabric, but those need a soda ash solution under them to make them colorfast,* and that means that the wax outline has to be applied first, and even then, sometimes the colors travel outside of the lines anyway.

I tried out dye markers next, for a less complicated way to get the dye onto the fabric, and I love the control that a marker provides. But, in honesty, I haven’t yet found a marker that I really love. All the markers that I’ve tried so far seem to start drying out on me midway through the project, so I wind up with bright colors in some places, and then dull colors where you can see the streak lines in other places.

And then I picked up some markers a few weeks ago that I really had hope for – they have squeezy barrels, so when you start getting that dry, raspy effect, you press them for more ink.** The only problem is that the tip on these dye markers is so wide that they turned out to be impractical for the detail work I was trying to accomplish.

But then I realized something – the tip of the markers actually comes off \o/ Meaning that I could pour some of the dye off and use it to hand-paint the design.*** So let me show you how to do it:

So, if you look at the top of the marker, you’ll see a line. With a fingernail or another pry tool (I’m imagining a flat-head screwdriver or a bottle opener), you can gently muscle the top off. What you don’t want to do is hold the pen upright and squeeze the top off. While hilarity will ensue, the results are messy and more than a little wasteful. Not that my ceiling tiles are pink now or anything >.>

Ta-DA! now you have an open marker. † You can pour the dye out into a dish and paint it on by hand from there.

The results were pretty terrific from this method. Here’s one of the finished tees:

***

*I will admit that this method produces the prettiest colors.
**Kind of like metallic paint markers, where you press the tip back into the pen? Only the tip on these markers isn’t retractable, you just squeeze the dye right into the tip.
***What you need to know: not all dye is created alike – most of the dyes that I applied with the brush had a thick enough consistency to stay put on the fabric. On the other hand, the dark green dye traveled, spreading on the fabric in a similar fashion to Sharpie marker on rough paper. Which is to say, you should always test-drive your materials before working with them.
†Holy carp, alligator skin! Get that lady some moisturizer, stat!

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