www.hdbatik.co.uk  Helen Dougall  |  Batik

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Making of the Wallhanging “Snow Field”

25 steps of a batik, from a sketch to the final piece. Gives an impression of one way that batik can be done.


Colour sketch on paper of a preliminary of "Snow Field".1. Colour sketch on paper.

Pencil drawing of "Snow Field" on white cotton, pinned onto a frame with some wax brush marks. 2. Pencil drawing on white cotton with (brownish) wax on cloud and line of horizon of field.

Applying water and dye to the cotton with a brush. 3. The sky area painted with clear water then orange dye added.

Part of work area including pots of dye. 4. Pots of dye.

Painting dye onto wet fabric. Bottom half still untouched by dye. 5. Notice the way the waxed cloud resists the orange dye. Blending colour with water. (Notice dye has leaked through small gaps in the waxed line which produces strange fan shapes which will eventually disappear.)

Painting wax over some of the dyed sky areas. 6. After the dye has dried, painting wax onto some of the sky colours, carefully using a canting (wax pen) to surround thistle shapes.

Cloth immersed in bath of dye - blue dye. 7. Immersing the whole piece into a blue dye bath.

The piece after blue dye bath. Bottom half nearly completely blue. Sky with clouds, and trees becoming recognisable. 8. The previously waxed colours have remained along with the white cloud. The blue has combined with the sky colours where no wax protects them. The rest is blue which will dry to a paler blue.

Some blue area having been waxed, with other plant shapes in the blue area unwaxed. 9. The pale blue, now dry, has been painted with wax where it will remain this colour. The darker blue only appears darker. The unwaxed blue will change colour on the next dip.

The piece just having been dipped in pale orange. The unwaxed areas that were blue, are now a strong brown. 10. A pale rust-orange is used to dye the whole piece, producing a brown which will be lighter when dry.

A dry version of the above picture. The strong brown is much paler having dried. 11. Now dry.

The piece so far, with some of the light brown areas waxed, and some not. 12. Wax over some of the pale brown, to retain it.

The piece just after having been immersed in turquoise dye. The unwaxed areas that were pale brown look almost black while it is still wet. 13. A turquoise-blue dye producing a grey-blue darkens the brown, except areas protected by wax.

Close up of sky area having more wax applied. 14. The last few unwaxed areas in the sky are now darker. The “old” wax has cracked allowing the dye to seep in, producing a cobweb-like pattern or “crackle” of hair-lines. To keep the sky subtle and to prevent the lines going any darker, more wax is painted over the old. (The extra layer of wax is deceptively brown).

Grey tracks across the field with wax on. 15. Grey-blue tracks across snow field are painted with wax to protect them from going any darker.

Whole piece with grey foreground. 16. And more shapes in the foreground and the field area are deliberately cracked to allow the next colour to produce yellow crackle.

The piece being dyed in a bath. 17. The batik is soaking in a strong yellowish-brown dye bath, a difficult colour which will have a tendency to turn green, the brownish element counteracts this.

The foreground is now a rich brown. 18. The grey has turned to brown.

19. Wax is added to keep some of the deeper tones of brown.



Now in green dye bath. 20. Immersing the batik in very dark green dye.

21. The dark grey that has resulted allows the foreground and distant hedge-line to be blocked out with wax.

The piece so far, and it's almost entirely covered with wax now. 22. The only unwaxed areas remaining are the trees and thistle shapes. Final dip is dark purple-blue.

Ironing out the wax with newsprint paper between iron and cotton. 23. After drying and rinsing, the wax is ironed out between sheets of newsprint to reveal the design.

24. The piece is then dry-cleaned, hand washed and mounted on a frame.


The final piece shows bright blue snow field and oranges in the sky with a dark foreground and vegetation.

25. Completed design of “Snow Field”.




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