Okavango Delta Aerial

Okavango Delta Aerial

Monday, 26 August 2013

More batiks

This Bank Holiday weekend I have concentrated on getting a few ideas done in batik. I had two cotton tote bags hanging around that I thought I could batik with elephants in some form or another. My thinking is that I could sell these ahead of the exhibition and in particular wanted them for my week as Artist in Residence at Nature In Art which is fast approaching (10th - 15th September). The funds from them will go into the 'exhibition fund pot', but I shall first deduct 20%, which will go to Elephants For Africa..... if I sell them.

I did two designs, on the same style bag (42cms x 35.5cms)... one of a wild bull that is named 'Hunter' (which is a 'threshold' image) who 'walked' a mahout and myself back to the mahout day camp in a calm but resolute manner! I will have to tell that tale on here at some point! 

And the other one is a pattern made up from a repeated image of an elephant, based on a bull named 'Ivor' (also wild). 

The third batik is another threshold image, this time of a greater kudu bull. A magnificent animal standing tall (unfortunately the photo is slightly tilted in a clockwise direction, so he doesn't look as tall and proud as the batik actually is - sorry I didn't notice that before) and looking very strong; he definitely means business!  This one is most likely to be done as a wall hanging to go in the exhibition. It is on a piece of cotton measuring 34" x 21" (865mm x 535mm), the kudu image itself is over 16" (405mm) high.

Here are a few images of the creation of the greater kudu batik.

The computer printout (my plan), from which I do the basic outline drawing that goes onto the cotton, is to the left.. I work on a piece of Java cotton, which is pinned taut to a frame. I mark in the outline of the kudu with a pencil (around HB grade) I use it lightly as this cotton is particularly fine and the technique I am using does not require the line to stay visible after the first layer of wax goes on. Pencil lines are easily lost though the process as water and colour are repeatedly applied to the cotton. I wax in the detail using my plan as a guide, adding detail or leaving bits out according to how I want the final image to look.

Here I have waxed in around the head. For this I use a slow flowing fine tjanting (canting), which is a type of batik tool for applying the molten wax to the surface. Every now and then I hold it up to the light to see if I have made good marks (that the wax has sealed the cotton) and that there is nothing that needs adding or altering (I can never take away - if I go wrong... I just have to adapt it as I go!) Luckily I managed to wax it all in without any mishaps.... such a relief.

Before I add any colour I then cover the rest of the cotton with wax to protect it from any unwanted colour spills ... I used a large household paintbrush for this. I had done several colour ideas on the computer before settling with the pink and mauve combination and then I had played with the distribution of colour, also on the computer. I had that printed out also as a guide for when it came to washing the colour over the surface of the free cotton, as again it is often the case with some colours that once on they cannot be undone or covered up... so it was important for me to get the feel of it right before the colour is applied. I love my computer as a tool for my work... it makes the prep work so much quicker and it is easy to visualise your ideas.

The time it took to wax it was about 5-6 hours, and I had to resort to protecting my thumb from the heat of the molten wax whilst holding the tjanting for that length of time almost non stop. Even though I had a folded piece of kitchen towel cradling the 'hot end' of the tjanting, the stray wax eventually seeps through and I was getting a very sore thumb, despite frequent changes of the kitchen towel. A combination of a plaster with masking tape then covering it, did the trick. The first for comfort the second as a barrier against molten wax.... a plaster alone, I learned, just won't do the job.    

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