Faculty Guest Blogger: Christine MEdley
Christine Medley: Over the summer I decided to take my very first class at Marywood. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity as I always wanted to try batik. Most people think of it as tie-dye but it’s much more of an art form that dunking a t-shirt in some dye. Batik is an ancient art form using a wax-resist process of dyeing fabric. Indonesian batik is probably the best known for its patterns and quality of workmanship.
The class was taught by Eva Polizzi, who teaches many of our textile-based classes. She had so many wonderful examples of the process and showed us a variety of techniques so we could practice with different tools and on a variety of fabrics. We first stamped wax designs on to fabric using mostly found metal and wood tools. Everything from cookie cutters to blocks from my letterpress shop to a hamster wheel. Then we dipped our fabric in a vat of indigo dye, boiled out the wax and washed the fabric as a final step. I was hooked!
The next process we tried was folding. Using an iron to make crisp folds and then tying up the fabric so it didn’t unfold in the dye, created interesting linear patterns.
Then we tried stitching as a resist, pole wrapping which is similar to folding, and then my favorite, the canting tool (pronounced “jaunting”). This tool has a well that you fill with hot wax and then draw on the fabric. We also tried some other natural dyes such as turmeric (bright yellow), red onion and black walnut.
So, after a week of jam-packed experimenting, we all chose a big project to work on. I decided to attack a really big one! I needed a piece to show for First Friday at Posh, a restaurant in Scranton, and decided on doing a formal place setting template on a tablecloth. After much discussion on how to approach this and some great advice from Eva, I designed and created many, many pieces for my installation. From my photos, you can see how I waxed each piece, dyed it, then sewed them on the final cloth. I also made batik flowers with indigo, turmeric and red onion dyes. I made napkins, letterpress printed a place card, and designed a small menu.
You can see the work in person during our Faculty Biennial which will be up through November.
I love this process and am looking forward to doing more of it. If you are interested in batik and taking this class, Eva will be offering it again soon. It would be a great elective and experience!