beautiful raindrop and malachite effects from salt and alcohol in silk painting

Name: Cathy example from Bold Over Batiks
Message: I have read and combed over your website and had great fun with it, especially the low water immersion dyeing information. A zillion thank you's for your kind work.

I saw some "batiks," so called, on ebay and on the web called Bold Over Batiks. You can see pix of the kind of thing I'm interested in [in the picture to the right]. Do you mind telling me how you think these were done?

Bold Over Batiks is selling some beautiful fabrics. What the fabrics in that example from their eBay auction look most like is not batik at all, just as you suspected, but instead fabric that has been painted with fabric paints, stretched over a frame of some sort to temporarily hold it tight, and then large salt crystals have been dropped on the damp fabric paint.

The effect is reminiscent of raindrops. Now, I am not saying that it is impossible to somehow use batik wax to get a similar effect, but that's not what it looks like. What salt crystals do is draw the fabric paint toward them, as though to dilute the salt, by osmotic pressure. This sucks the paint away from surrounding areas. The technique works very well with pigment-based fabric paints. It will not work with fast-reacting dyes, such as Procion MX fiber reactive dyes. It can work with dyes that are very slow to set, however, in particular dyes that do not bond to the fiber until they are steamed. The issue is whether the dye or pigment attaches to the fabric before the salt has a chance to move it.

You can buy expensive little jars of 'silk salt' from the same suppliers that sell good silk paints, or for the same effect but far less expense you can buy any large-crystalled salt, such as kosher salt or the salts sold for deicing sidewalks or for use in water softeners. Salt effects work well with many example of alcohol effects in silk painting different silk dyes and silk paints, such as the French silk dyes (including Tinfix, Pebeo Soie, Dupont, and Ateliers Creatief Kniazeff), Dye-Na-Flow, SetaSilk, Marabu Silk Paint, and Deka Silk Paint—probably also with any thin, transparent fabric paint. They work best on tightly-stretched thin fabric. Salt effects will not work well on coarse, thick weaves of fabric. The Dharma Trading Company catalog indicates how well each of the Tinfix silk dye colors work for silk effects.

Another picture from the same vendor shows a different effect (see image above, to the left), bulgy round crystals of natural malachite, from the Würzburg Mineralogical Museum which looks like what you might achieve by applying drops of silk paint to the fabric, and then dropping alcohol on top. The alcohol pulls the dye with it as it creeps along the fabric, leaving lighter areas. In this case the effect looks wonderfully like the bulgy round crystals of natural rough malachite stones (the picture at the right is from the Würzburg Mineralogical Museum). 

I used to use salt effects a lot when working with silk paint, back before I started using fiber reactive dyes. The results are really beautiful, and very easy to obtain. I think that you'll want to try silk painting so that you can experiment with salt and alcohol effects.

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Pebeo Setasilk Kit

Pebeo Setasilk Kit

Includes everything you need to paint in strong, bright, and intense color on silk, other fabrics, paper and wood. It's a fantastic source for creating one-of-a-kind gifts. Many of the pigments can be fixed with a domestic iron. The kit contains ten 20 ml (.7 oz) colors, a pearl gold gutta, 20 ml (.7 oz) dilutant, Pebeo brush, and user guide packed into a drawered box. Colors include Butter Cup, Coral, Hermes Red, Raspberry, Gitane Glue, Cyan, Turquoise, Oriental Green, Beaver Brown, and Green Bronze.

from Blick Art Materials

Posted: Wednesday - November 01, 2006 at 09:32 AM          

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