The basic idea of a resist is simple. Use something to stop the dye getting to the fabric, and it will make a pattern. That something can be string tied round the fabric, or a paste painted on, or just scrunching it up so the dye can’t get through.
The exact effect can be difficult to predict. Sometimes you can get a lovely marbled effect just by scrunching up wet fabric before putting it in the dye bath. Once I didn’t scrunch enough, and it came out a nice even colour all over. Because of that, I try to make sure I scrunch firmly, and often I get over enthusiatic and end up with more of the original colour than I expected.
Anything that holds the fabric together works, like a bulldog clip. As you can see from the pictures above, I tried four methods of creating resist recently for my indigo experiments, with the result of the bulldog clip in the bottom right corner of the results picture. I wasn’t surprised that the dye didn’t get to the fabric in the middle of the folded piece, but I thought the outer layer would have a line across the corner where the clip touched, rather than leaving the area under the clip the original colour.
I thought I would try using bulldog clips on a scarf, placing them reasonably far apart, so that the dye could get through to the inner layers, as I wanted a blue scarf with a white pattern. I tried one scarf as it came out of the packet, with just one extra fold, and another with a concertina fold, making it a quarter of the original width.
I folded down the handles of the clips, because my indigo vat is a large kilner jar, so it has a relatively narrow neck. Originally, this jar was supposed to be for mixing only, and I was going to transfer it to a lidded bucket for its permanent home. I didn’t do the transfer at first, so that I could see what was going on. Now I have decided to carry on using the jar. The reason for using a larger dye bath is so that the fabric can move around easily, giving a more even result. That is good if you want a nice plain blue. I’m after interesting patterns, so a bit of variation is a good thing.
When I undid the scarves, I was surprised to find that the handles are big enough to create a resist, giving an interesting pattern.
Two more experiments need to follow on from this:
- Is the undyed area under the clip only there because of the short time the fabric is in the indigo vat? About 10 minutes does the trick for indigo, but other dyes need longer, for example simmering for half an hour, or 3 hours in a slow cooker. In that time, and with the extra movement that occurs due to the heat, the dye might find its way under the clip.
- If the clip is moved and a second dye is applied, logically there could be a range of colours made by a mix of the two colours and the original. It might even be possible to get a rainbow.
But not just yet…