Wax fish

This morning I’m finishing the first stage of a project I hope will result in a quilt. I’ve stencilled salmon images onto squares of white cotton (cut from fragments of cotton sheets I brought home from my mother’s apartment after her death; she’d saved everything and I was reluctant to toss the bag of sheets away, knowing that white cotton can always be used for something…), in varying configurations, and then have carefully brushed the fish with melted wax. A kind of batik, but it’s simply one step in printing a design on these squares. The next step will be to stitch the background with strong thread to create a mokume or woodgrain resist pattern. Then the squares will be immersed in indigo dye. I’ll crack the waxed fish images a bit so that the indigo bleeds into the white cotton. After the dye is set and dry, I’ll iron the squares to remove the wax and then use some fabric paint to detail the fish a little — red is particularly nice against the white and indigo. And if all this works out according to plan, then I’ll have 15 blocks to use for a quilt. I have to confess I’m not an artist. I have almost no graphic ability. But sometimes I have such an urge to make something, to make a visual thing with texture and colour, and so I keep trying to find ways to do this. Fabric seems to be the most forgiving. And this method of resist-dyeing is also kind of forgiving. I’ve made a quilt using this ancient Japanese shibori technique in the past and added batik to the mix with results that I still love (the quilt is on a daybed in my study…) so I’m hoping to expand on what I did in the past and add a few new twists. Stay tuned. I’ll add images of each stage of the process.

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