On arrival, we were greeted with freshly baked scones, had homemade soup with fresh bread for lunch and some of the ladies brought fruit and yoghurt and almond cake for dessert. The theme of the day was how do we get Paula to run another workshop so we can come back for second helpings?
Paula had the fabric pre-soaked in Soda Ash which acts as a fixative and the powdered dyes were mixed up for us in 3 colours. We had a yellow, red and blue base of primary colours from which to mix other colours. We had a warm and cool yellow (golden & lemon), blue (ultramarine & turquoise) and a magenta colour to work with. We worked in groups of two with some using the cool colours and some using the warm colours.
The dye mix was measured and poured into plastic bags (we had variations of yellow/red, blue/red etc. to make all the rainbow colours.). The pre-soaked fabric was put in the bag and squeezed in the bag to absorb the dye. Everybody enjoyed this bit! We had 2 pieces of fabric for every colour and Paula gave us a recipe booklet and how to instructions for mixing the colours to take away for later.
After lunch, we learned all about Batik making and wax resistance methods. Paula showed us some of her teaching samples and projects and explained the process of consecutive dyeing using wax to mask off the areas not to be dyed at each and every stage. Her samples were brilliant for demonstrating working from light to dark and building up the wax base as you go along.
Then of course we had to have a try! We used brushes dipped in the hot wax to make big marks and blobs and used Tjanting tools which have a wooden handle with a metal nib to give fine lines and better control for detailed work.
Paula explained in addition to these tools, stamps in all sorts of detail and sizes can be used to add a wax pattern to the fabric before dyeing. The wax itself can be scrunched to make it crack in places and allow dye to settle in wiggly lines and fun patterns.
Finally, we got to use up the last of the dye with our scraps by just experimenting on the fabric in plastic containers. Milk cartons were perfect for this.
We got all sorts of wonderful colours and patterns just by playing! On Sunday, the not so fun part to finish the process at home, was the rinsing - it takes a bit of time!
If you want to try for yourself the dyes are available online in Ireland at Cork Art Supplies and in the US at Dharma Trading. It was a really fun day and Paula looked after us so well. Thank you Paula and thank you ladies for a great workshop!