In my batik class at SACI we got to make several silk scarves and then whatever else we wanted. Batik is a method of dying fabrics using a wax resist. So basically, wherever there is wax, the dye doesn’t reach. That allows for some beautiful designs.
My first silk scarf was supposed to be about a first impression of Florence. I decided to draw a window like I saw on a lot of buildings around town. First, I drew the design in pencil on the scarf. Then I pinned it to a wooden frame and used a tool to trace the lines in wax. I made a couple of spills, but that’s how you tell if a batik is real or not. 😉
I then painted wax over the design once it dried. That is so that when I dipped it in a soft yellow background color, it wouldn’t affect the other colors. Once it dried, I layers it on newspaper, covered it with more paper, and ironed the wax out. Once I got out as much wax as I could, my teacher sent it to be dry-cleaned.
My next scarf was a long one. I decided to do a design that would look good being worn. I put the symbol of Florence, the giglio, on each side with a design around the edges. I dipped all the colors for this one, not paint them. I drew in pencil, then outlined with wax, then dipped the lightest color. Once that dried, I painted wax over the parts I wanted to stay that color, then dipped it in the next color. I repeated the process and finally dipped it in the last color. Once it dried, I ironed the wax out and sent it to be dry cleaned.
I painted the other flowers pink.
I painted the leaves green.
I painted the whole design with the wax resist and dipped it to get a blue background. This one took a very long time and a lot of paper to iron the wax out, but once it was done it was sent to the cleaners.
Once we finished all the assignments, we could make anything. I decided to try the shibori technique my teacher had shown us at the beginning of the semester. I got a small piece of raw silk to try it out on. Shibori is like tie-dye. You make stitches in the fabric and pull it tight to make the resist, instead of using wax. It takes a lot of patience, but I like stitching.
I dipped it in purple first, but I didn’t pull the stitches tight enough, so it didn’t look right. I re-stitched it and dipped it in blue, and it looked much better. It is very important to let it completely dry before taking the stitches out, which took a long time.
My final project was not completed for the show, but my teacher liked the way it looked unfinished, like a sculpture, so she put it in as it was to show the shibori process.
I finished it in the last week of classes, using the same shibori techniques and tying it up. It was another piece of raw silk, but much larger. Raw silk stands up to the rough stitching much better than the thin silk scarves.