Not strictly knitting, but still quite cool
So, at the weekend RLBF & I went down to West Dean College for a 2 day course entitled 'An Introduction to Batik'. Neither of us had ever done it before and we both thought it sounded interesting, so off we went.
It turned out to be excellent fun, and just the sort of technique that shouts out at you to try all kinds of things and see how they turn out. Once we understood the basics we both went a little crazy and produced loads of different bits of fabric just because we could. I like that sort of creativity sometimes.
Anyway, the way batik works is that you start (usually) with a white piece of cotton, and some melted wax. Then you use a brush, or a special tool called a tjanting to wax over the parts of the fabric that you want to leave white. Once the wax is dry you then apply your first layer of pale dye. You can dip dye the whole thing at every stage if you want to, but we were painting the dye on much as you would in silk painting. Then, once that's dry, more wax followed by darker dye colours and so on and so on until you are happy with the finished result.
Then you cover the whole thing in wax, crumple it and put it into a suitably coloured dye bath to make the mottled veiny effect that's typical of batik. Of course you don't have to do that part if you don't want to, but I thought it tied most pieces together really well. Plus the fact that it was a fun part to do because it was super-messy.
Then you iron out most of the wax from the fabric, and you are left with your final creation. Some wax remains in the fabric unless you wash it, meaning that the cotton becomes quite a lot stiffer than it was before you started.
So what did I make? The first piece was a sampler, just to get used to the tools and the dyes and the technique in general.
Not too bad, I thought. I am particularly fond of the 70's ish section with the squares and the huge swirls in the top right hand corner.
Then I was inspired by a postcard that I happened to have in my sketchbook of this painting by Matisse:
Polynesie, Le Ciel
That lead to this piece below (which sadly Mr A has photographed upside down, but you can't have everything). This has four layers of dye applied to the fabric, with two birds left completely white and all the other birds and sea creatures waxed onto the second or third layers. I'm not quite sure why my piece turned out so green, when the postcard is clearly of the sky. I don't think it really matters though. I finished this piece off by cracking it and dip dying in a vivid purple, which has made a great mottled background. I like it, even if it's not traditional for the sky to be green.
Matisse on CRAX
Then I went a bit crazy with masking tape and red and orange dyes...
And finally I decided to produce some fabric that I might be able to use in one of my knitted bag projects and I came up with this:
Could be a fun lining, don't you think?
If you ever get a chance to try batik out I recommend that you give it a go. RLBF & I really enjoyed it, and it's quite easy to get very pleasing results without necessarily having to be highly skilled at drawing or design.