Soy Wax Dye Resist

I am finally getting around to trying soy wax as a dye resist.  Soy wax has the benefits of melting at a lower temperature and being much easier to remove than traditional batik waxes. In addition soy wax is sourced from a renewable resource and helps to support our farmers!

Safety Tip: Any wax, including soy, is flammable when allowed to heat to too high a temperature. Treat the technique with respect and ensure that the wax does not overheat. Use these safety tips for best results:
– Use a dedicated pan or wax pot that has controls to regulate the temperature,
– Always turn off or unplug the appliance when leaving your work area,
– Do not leave heated wax unattended at any time,
– Do not leave your tools in the wax pot when not in use. They can be damaged or broken.
– Arrange your space with safety in mind,
– Keep the area clean and tidy, protect surfaces with newspaper, old sheets or towels,
– Situate your wax pot and electrical cords as close to the electrical outlets as possible
   (do not place the cords where they could be walked or tripped over), and
– Do not to use tools that are wet, the wax will not stick to the tool and may spit wax at you, and

Soy wax has a lower melting point than traditional batik wax. Generally a temperature between 125° F – 150° F works best. Check the temperature on your equipment to find the optimal settings. The wax should be hot enough to penetrate the fabric and appear translucent. If the wax beads up or looks milky on the fabric, then it is not ready for application. Either wait a couple minutes or check the temperature of the wax. Soy wax will act differently with different fabrics, generally the heavier the fabric, the longer the wax will take to penetrate and the more wax will be required for a complete resist. Soy wax penetrates light weight fabrics, such as cotton, silk, rayon and linen better. 

Tools and Supplies: 
Most of the tools used for soy wax application can be found in hardware or thrift stores.
– Natural bristle brushes in a variety of widths-from 1/2″ to 2″-3″
– Sponges – cellulose sponges work best, their fibers stand up to repeated wax applications and can be cut into various shapes
– Metal Kitchen tools – mashers, serrated vegetable cutters and such can give interesting texture with wax application.
– Cardboard shapes – tubes, boxes, etc.
– Chemical Water: 1 cups lukewarm water 2 Tablespoons Urea Granules (urea helps to retain moisture and keep the dyes from drying in storage or when painted on fabric
– Dye Concentrate solutions dissolved in chemical water

1. Prepare fabric for dyeing (either purchase PFD fabric or wash in Blue Dawn). 
2. Soak fabric for 15 minutes in soda ash solution, wring lightly and hang to dry.  Do not place soda ash treated fabric in the clothes dryer as it will leave a film in the drum. Remove wrinkles with a dry, cool iron. Pretreated fabric can generally be stored for a few weeks.  However, if working silk fabric, use within 5 days of pretreating with soda ash as the chemicals can break down the silk fibers.
3. If drawing a pattern, transfer your design onto the fabric with washable marker or soft pencil.
4. Stretch the fabric on a fabric stretcher or by taping to a hard surface.
5. Melt the soy wax in a glass container warmed over a heating plate. Put your tool in the wax for about one minute for adequate uptake of wax. Allow the wax to cool.  Once the wax on the front of the fabric is cooled, turn it over and wax any areas that did not penetrate completely. The soy wax should appear clear when you apply it and your fabric should be translucent when the soy wax cools. Since soy wax is brittle when cold, the wax design often cracks when the cloth is handled. Dye seeps into the cracks making the characteristic web-like pattern known as crackle.
6. Immersion dye similar to previously described.  Note – soy was melts at a lower temperature than batik or paraffin was.  So, be careful with the temperature of your dye bath, generally keeping the temperature under 95°.   If you want to avoid a lot of crackle, use a flat tray or bin to hold the dye so the fabric does not have to fold. This way the fabric stays flat so you can control the amount of crackle. Alternatively, dye solution can be painted on the fabric and then covered with plastic to retain the moisture.
7. Successive dye treatment can build color. Dye the lightest color first progressing to the darkest. Since the colors are dyed one on top of the other, except where the fabric is waxed, they combine to produce new colors. For example, if the first color is yellow and the second color is blue the mixture creates green. Similarly, if the first color is red and the second color is blue the mixture creates purple. In either example, you cannot obtain blue, only mixtures with blue. It’s helpful to know basic color mixing to take advantage of this aspect and be prepared to experiment with color mixing. It is important to plan the dye color order before beginning.
8. Batch at RT for 4 hours. Rinse fabric in cold water.
9. Wash in hot water with Blue Dawn soap. Rinse, dry and iron.

First Trial – Tools:
Folded cardboard used to make “E” shapes
Copper Tjapp – normally used for batik patterns
Metal Tjanting – used to write my name

Lessons Learned :
Wax drips – hold a cloth under the tool you are using to catch the drips.
Tjapp -I had tried unsuccessfully with batik wax, her I still do not like the way they worked with the soy was.  I will reserve them for Paint Stick rubbings.
Tjanting – worked well to draw lines and shapes.

Second Trial – Tools and Techniques:

Potato smasher

Lessons Learned :
Potato smasher worked well.
Over-dyeing add nice dimension to the color

Third Trial – Tools and Techniques:
Tjanting grid lines
Selective dyeing over fabric previously dyed with oatmeal resist

Lessons Learned :
Nice way to control the placement of color.

Fourth Trial – Tools and Techniques:
Cardboard tube wax stamping
Over stamping and over-dyeing with same color

Lessons Learned :
Cardboard tubing works really well with soy wax stamping.
Over stamping and over dyeing  creates interesting patterns.

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