The shirts and scarves offered by Wildflower Textiles are all hand-dyed by myself, one at a time. My son Nick’s old room has been transformed into my studio, which contains white scarves and tops waiting for the batik process to work its magic, electric frying pans for melting wax, tjantings (kind of like pens with spouts for the melted wax to flow through), brushes, a light pad, dyes, measuring spoons and cups, a thermometer, large stainless steel pots, drawing and tracing paper, pencils, markers, and a bed in the corner for when Nick comes home to visit.
There are several ways to create resists for hand-dyed fabric. After experimenting with a few options, I settled on the batik process. Starting with a white scarf or shirt, the melted wax is applied to the area that will remain white. I use a low-immersion method of dyeing, which uses less water and dye than traditional tub dyeing. The liquid dye solution is poured over damp fabric, a fixative is added, and the product is rinsed after an hour or so. Once the fabric is dry, the waxing and dyeing process can be repeated to create more colors. One of my favorite methods of applying the dye results in cloud-like textures. Irregularities in the color make hand-dyed clothing distinct from mass-produced products.
The professional-quality, Procion fiber-reactive dyes share electrons with the fabric – they actually become part of the fabric, rather than sitting on top of it like fabric paint or ink would. This means that the fabric stays soft, and the end result is colorfast.
I usually use soy wax for the resist, which is made from soy beans, but also use beeswax for some projects. The wax is removed by placing the finished product in hot water. This also serves to remove the “loose” dye from the product; however, it’s best to wash the items with like colors.