Monday, November 9, 2020

Batiking with StencilGirl® Stencils

‘I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.’

Apparently, Pippi Longstocking never said the above, nor did Astrid Lindgren.

Whoever else came up with it, was, in my opinion on the right track though. It’s undoubtedly a rule I apply to most of my creative adventures.

The Creative Team theme for this month is ‘Wearables’, and it made me think about methods to print on fabric.

Over the years, I’ve stamped, stencilled, gel printed and screen printed fabric.

On my bookshelf, however, there’s an old (second-hand) book on batik. I have never really tried wax-resist dyeing before, so I grabbed this chance to give it a go.

How hard could it be?

From what I read, the minimum of what I needed was: wax, brushes or sponges, fabric, dye and some household items like a bucket, something to stir with, rubber gloves, an iron and ironing board, plus absorbent paper.

I also needed a pan to melt the wax in, however, when I went online to order wax and dye, I found a jar of cold wax. It seemed more manageable than the hot wax, so I ordered the cold wax.

I thought that I was all set, but once my order arrived, I realised that the cold wax meant that the temperature of the dye bath needed to stay under 50 degrees Celsius.

Which would not make things easier at all! And, I would need to buy a thermometer…

Let the experiment begin!

Once I got the thermometer, and I had my white cotton washed and cut (I cut it to the same size as my favourite shawl), I went to work. Watch the video to see how I got on!

Applying the cold wax through a stencil with a sponge was entirely doable. Sometimes a bit of the wax seeped under the stencil, but I decided just to go with it. 

Because the wax was a bit hard to see on the fabric, I wasn’t sure if I had applied enough of it. I was relieved to see the design appear once I got the material into the pink dye bath.

Rinsing the paint from the fabric was more challenging than I expected though. And, although I made sure the water was never too warm, I already suspected that some of the wax dissolved due to the rinsing.

I decided that it would be OK if the second dye bath would cover the white design and went ahead.

Unfortunately, the second dye bath covered more than just the white design. It also covered everything I wanted to stay pink! For some reason, the second wax application hadn’t permeated the fibres as well as the first time. 

While the fabric was still wet, I was hopeful that it would turn out OK. Unfortunately the next day I found the result super disappointing.

Even ironing the fabric to get rid of the wax residue did not provide a better result.

Can I still make this wearable?

I figured I had two options left to turn my craft fail around. One: I could do one last dye bath. I still had one pack of very dark dye left.

Or, two: I could up the contrast by adding bolder strokes to the fabric with another type of fabric dye I had in my stash.

I did not want to risk the chance of investing more time and effort in another dye bath. I would instead save that pack of dye for another time.

So, I opted for the bold move and painted a big circle pattern all over the fabric.

Because this dye was very wet, I could only paint a couple of circles at a time and had to let the paint dry before I could move on to the next row of circles. 

It took me a whole day to paint the circles and then the textile dye had to dry for another 3-6 hours before I could fixate it by ironing the fabric for 5 minutes.

The result is very loose, splotchy and irregular. I love how it turned out, though. You can see the stencilled pattern peeking through, and this colour combo is one that I can actually wear.

Once I was happy with the fabric, I hemmed it. And, in an attempt to finally get rid of the last of the wax residue I threw my new shawl in the washing machine.

When I took it out again, I realised the backside actually looked better. 

Oh well...

At least now you know. Sometimes I know what I’m doing, and sometimes I just fly by the seat of my pants. And, though I rarely show my craft fails online, like everyone else, I do have my fair share of them.

Anyway, there’s no turning back now. Luckily I do love my new shawl!

Until next time!

Marsha Valk

Stencil used:

ATC Mixup Missigman #1 Art Marks by Rae Missigman


  1. I really enjoyed your story of this experiment, and I'm so glad that you love the final results! It looks beautiful.

    1. Thanks Terry! I haven’t stopped wearing the shawl! However, I am going to have another go with the pink someday... :—D


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