Logwood Dyeing with Batik and Silk Painting for Dresses

PROJECT: Experimentation with beeswax batik resist as background texture for silk painting

I made two samples with silk pieces: 1st logwood dye bath produced strong purple after drying (but it got burnt when the steamer boiled dry, so I made another one), 2nd logwood dye bath using the residue of first dye bath, which resulted in light-dull grape colour. Useful to discover; means can use a small amount of logwood for paler tone.

Result: 1st Logwood dye bath

Gallery: Deep purple dyed silk shows where shibori technique worked (scrunching up with gathered threads) leaf vein and butterfly edging. Leaf areas did not work as resisted, so dye bleach was applied to design area. This is ironed out when dry, and worked only partially. It seems logwood is almost impervious to chemical bleach.

Design areas were outlined again with a dark dyed gutta for more emphasis of, before adding fresh dye colours to images. Silk sample burnt in steaming, will feature in another dress from strips salvaged. (Gallery)

2nd Logwood dye bath – Batik preparation

BATIK: Silk piece stretched to frame. Design drawn with blue water soluble marker pen design drawn. Applying bees wax to silk, with brush end and brushes.

Design drawn with water dissolvable blue marker pen.  Wax is applied as hot as possible. The centre motif worked best (and lightest outcome) where wax was hottest.  Keep heating up wax by placing dish over boiling water pan. Other surrounding wax markings with brush end dabs and hog bush worked less well.  The clearest resisted area is in the centre, where the wax was originally just off the boil. It also came away the easiest when ironed after dyeing. So I would not recommend using weak, faint brush marks when applying wax. It won’t form a strong enough ‘cover’ and the dye will seep behind which can be seen in image below, although a feint texture was achieved.

Shibori test techniques

1st logwood dye bath test created white resisted butterfly outlines (above) after stitching threads very tightly together. Rows of loose stitching, and threads pulled as much as possible, creating a ruched area which creates a resist area against dye penetration. 2nd soak in same dye bath (when most dyestuff had been taken up) revealed poor resist, using shibori stitch gathering (shown on waxed piece). Note: Shibori works well if fabric excluded enough from dye bath – so use thick embroidery silks or string type thread. Simple cotton thread was not thick enough.

Removing batik wax

When dyed fabric is dry – iron over thick brown paper (parcel paper type) placed over silk and wax; iron several times, with fresh paper and hot iron. When wax seems all removed, wash silk in hot water and soap. Any stubborn wax can be scrubbed very, very lightly with a soft brush, to loosen. (Note: wax batiking in this way for fashion, is not ideal on silk) Cotton is a firmer base for artwork where it wouldn’t matter if some residue of wax remains in fabric.

Result: 2nd Logwood dye bath with Batik Lilac-beige silk texture – subtle result after washing out logwood dye, and removing wax.

Fabric co-ordinates: Blend and contrast ideas with batik colour result prior to silk painting. (View Gallery)

Fabric co-ordinates: Final choices of fabric colours to create patchwork dress, to go with half finished silk painting.

Dulled pinks and dull brown with lilac seemed best combinations for the silk batik ground. The pink taffeta has a lilac sheen.

Choosing the pansy print as a co-ordinate allowed the addition of pansies in the silk painted design. This design didn’t really have a preconceived theme, only to use the nigella seed pod as a motif, and for the batik background experiment. Adding maroon silk seemed a good darker linking colour from the pansy print.

The green butterfly came from a photograph I took, and the red butterfly came from another printed fabric design.

Painted silk design result with co-ordinated fabrics chosen for dress.

Pansies added around seed pod design. Co-ordinating fabrics chosen.

Finished silk painting over batik with embroidery for added textural effect

Added embroidered lines on pansies give sparkly effect. Nigella seed pod is enhanced by dark seeds inside pod (arial view) and light embroidery on the pod ends. …The banana leaves would benefit from embroidery also.

Silk Painting ‘Nigella Butterflies’ made into dress centrepiece

Pink silk top – fabric co-ordinate taken from a blouse: colour is similar to the palest background in the logwood batik. Pink bodice top sewn to silk painting just under bust; simple overlap stitching. Original V-necked pink blouse was cut on the cross, so will stretch over varied bust fullness.

Fabric co-ordinate Brown cotton with lavender-pink design – added to bottom of silk painting, and usefully some dress parts could be utilised for armhole bands, as an additional design feature.

Front bodice Contrasting armhole band taken from neckline of co-ordinating fabric (dress). Pinned to pink silk bound edged armhole for stitching join by hand.

Back bodice – Contrasting armhole banding cut from back and underarm of co-ordinating fabric (dress).

Dressmaking process to be continued… August 2019