Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Soy Wax Batik & Over Dyeing Experiment

Hands down, my favorite! 
I'll show you why.

It started with a fat quarter of Kona previously immersion dyed with Procion MX Dyes. That translates as 'cold water dyed in a cup', and that's why there is a mottled color to the fabric instead of a nice, overall distribution of color. This was Lemon Yellow by Dharma Trading Co., and one of the 3 primary colors I started with. It was bright--almost neon, and perfect to experiment with over dyeing.

Beeswax vs. Soy Wax

Beeswax is a traditional resist, but requires a lengthy process boiling to remove all the wax. Soy wax rinses out with hot water, and safely flows down the drain. There are pro's and con's of each including safety and environmental issues, and I had not yet experimented with soy wax. So...

I switched out my beeswax/paraffin mix for a soy wax as several dyers suggested. I found the wax flakes in a local crafting supply shop, and wanted to compare them to the beeswax. All my tools had to be cleaned also, but it wasn't terrible. Rinsing repeatedly with boiling water was enough. 

The soy wax worked fairly the same as the beeswax, but the smell was not as pleasant. I also found it was slightly more difficult to get it to penetrate all the way through the fabric using a tjanting tool. The handheld wax pen has a reservoir for the liquid wax, and works comparably to a pen with its own inkwel. I may not have had it hot enough, and will try again today.

It actually looked pretty neat right here where I laid it outside in 7 degree F weather to harden the wax. 

Instead of crinkling up this fabric to fit it in my soda ash tub, I filled a little spray bottle with the solution. I spritzed the fabric as it laid flat, and made sure it was fairly saturated. Soda ash raises the ph of the fabric, and allows the dye to be grabbed and held.

What's the GOOP?

Sodium alginate is a thickener made from brown algae or kelp. Yup, edible stuff, but not with chemical dyes added! I mixed a batch up the night before, and allowed it to smooth and thicken. You can see here how I've used it mixed with a pale grey dye, and painted it on the fabric. The sodium alginate acts like liquid cornstarch would, and stays wet like a jelly. This allows the dye to remain liquid, and bond with the fibers as dye quits working when it dries.

Fiber reactive dyes like Procion MX Dyes actually have a covalent bond with the fabric. What does that mean for you? It means they won't wear off or get lighter when you wash them! Once the excess dye is rinsed and washed from the fabric after the dye process, you see exactly what you've got. Pretty nifty, and it won't bleed onto your fabrics when you make it into a washable product like a quilt!

Rinsed, washed, dried and ironed. Can you see the faint red streaking through the piece? Tiny granules of a red dye that were not cleaned up well enough, but how nicely the accident adds to the piece! I couldn't have done it intentionally. 

Why is this my favorite piece? It's a one of a kind. It's so unusual, and most unique. I could never replicate it.

Keep Records!

You know the benefit of recording details of your quilts. Measurements, fabrics, (which white was that?), thread, batting, etc. Record keeping in dyeing can't be emphasized enough! I heard it, took heed, and already I've looked things up that I had recorded. Compare it to a lab sheet when you were back in science class.

The scraps above were a last minute addition when I was using all the red dyes. This was orignially a lime green fabric with white crosses that I threw in each of the dye cups I had going to see what might happen. There were some surprises, and they gave me a great deal of information. 

When you dye a virgin piece of white fabric, you expect it to be the color of the dye. When you take the altered piece of fabric and further dye it, you have to consider how those colors will mix. So a red piece of fabric dyed blue will become purple. Or, a yellow piece of fabric dyed red will become orange. 

Here I had a piece of turquoise, and some left over amethyst dye. I streaked it with a paint brush dipped in the hot soy wax, and dotted with a wine cork. I tossed it outside to get very cold and brittle, and then quickly crinkled it. Into a soda ash soak it went for 20 minutes, out it came, and into the dye bath.

All the factors, from the irregular stamping to wavy lines to unevenness of dye, gave this sample dimension and depth.

The last batik I tried was just a fun one. My mom's birthday is St. Patrick's Day, and I had some very bright neon lime fabric I had dyed. It was a quick process to turn it into shamrocks. Lime over dyed with Avocado dye became a fairly good depiction of the green island's clover. How could I forget to do at least one with 4 leaves?

Rinsed, washed, and nicely drying were these three beauties. Chocolate in front, Amethyst in back, and in the middle--Dances with Raisins! I giggled to myself when I first read the name, then knew I had to support the tongue in cheek humor by having some of that. It's a beautiful color that complements so many color groups I've tried it with. Keep them coming, Dharma!

I have loved sharing this with you. Color holds so much meaning for me, and in the end will contribute more to my quilting than I can imagine. The process of learning about it is exciting, but does take time. Thank you for bearing with me, and I hope you're both enjoying and learning along with me.

Follow me on Instagram for more up the moment fun, or by email to make sure I'm in your mailbox. 

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.

Linking up with~
Off the Wall Friday
Freshly Pieced
Sew Fresh Quilts
Midweek Makers
Quilt Story
Freemotion By the River
Sew Cute Tuesday
Fiber Tuesday
Stitch All the Things
Bits N Bobs
Patchwork Times
Monday Making
Cooking Up Quilts
Show and Tell with Bambi


Shelina (formerly known as Shasta) said...

I haven't dyed any fabric, but it is something that intrigues me, and I may well get it into it someday, especially with wool from the thrift store. I enjoyed learning about the process from you.

Alison V. said...

This is absolutely beautiful! What a fun way to make a project even more "yours"! Thanks for sharing at Sew Cute Tuesday.

Christine Slaughter said...

I'm really getting an education by reading all of your posts about dyeing fabric. I love it! Your fabrics are so unique and how wonderful to have original pieces that are all yours. That shamrock fabric is fabulous!

Connie Kresin Campbell said...

Beautiful fabrics!!

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

I don't think I'll ever try dying fabric myself, but your posts on the subject are interesting and the photos of the resulting fabrics are divine!

Sharon - IN said...

Wow! Beautiful! What will you do with all your lovelies?

Cath said...

I love how your fabrics turned out....especially the first green one. Thanks for linking up with Bits 'n Bobs for Design Board Monday and sharing your technique.

Daryl @ Patchouli Moon Studio said...

Dying is fun because you never know for sure how each fabric will turn out. Sometimes you do have happy accidents too. You ended up with a lovely assortment of hand dyed fabrics.

Unknown said...

The fabrics are looking good! I like what you did with the neon green!

evaj said...

Thank you Julie and good continuation ... of your linking and inspiration you give us on the show and tell Monday !! Hug Bambi

Kate said...

Love all your experiments with color. That's so fun. And to get beautiful fabrics out of the deal is even more fun. Gorgeous colors!

Norma Schlager said...

How serendipitous! I spent part a good part of the weekend experimenting with soy wax and am having so much fun. I love your results, especially the turquoise and amethyst. I also like the cracking effect you got with that one. I am batching mine right now and can't wait to wash them out tomorrow to see the result. I used thicken dyes.

Unknown said...

Love yourn experiments with dye. Thanks for sharing what you did. Your colors and patterns are great.