A few months ago, I explained in a blog post called "Playing With Crayons" how I use crayon batik to create some of my latest illustrations. It's an interesting process because you really don't know what results you're going to get - once the fabric is placed in the dye bath you get that "crackle" effect that is unique to batik. And no crackling happens the same way twice. However, getting the wax out of the fabric can also have interesting - and scary - results.
So here's how I made Little Red, or Little Dupatta as I'm calling her:
First, I blew up the final sketch to about 22" x 22" and transferred it onto white muslin fabric using a light box.
Then I began a color study by coloring in my sketch, just to make sure that the colors I was envisioning would work together.
At this point it's about five hours until the Tomie dePaola Award submission deadline for this illustration. But I stopped working to take my son to the doctor due to pain in his foot that he had been experiencing for two days. Turns out that he had a hairline fracture, from jumping incorrectly on the sidewalk. That's my boy!
Then I put the batik in a dye bath of Imperial Purple. I thought that color sounded very distinguished.
This is what it looked like after the dye bath. Can't see much crackle yet. But just you wait...
This is what happens when the gloves you're using have a hole in them. It stays like this for a couple of days, while the dye is seeping into your skin and running through your bloodstream. No big deal.
After the batik was dry, I placed it between sheets of newsprint to iron out the wax. And then I nearly pulled my hair out - all the wax was bleeding WAAAAYYY too much and covering up the entire batik.
At this point it was either throw the entire thing away or just keep ironing until all the way was lifted off.
Luckily, I was able to salvage it even though the colors had bled way more than expected.
And then came the finishing touches. I'm going to channel my inner Stevie Wonder here and for all of you who use digital applications to either enhance or fix your work, sing along with me:
"Keep smiling, keep shining. Knowing you can always count on me. For sure. That's what Photoshop is for..."
So I scanned the batik and worked a bit on cleaning up the color in some areas as well as changed some of the coloring on the wolf's clothing. Here's the finished piece again...
In the end, I'm happy with the result but am learning that I need to get better at not putting on the melted crayon so thick. This way the colors won't bleed as much. Also I need to leave space where my line drawing goes so that the dye can seep into the openings to naturally outline the piece. Then I wouldn't have to overlay my sketch in Photoshop. I also need to keep searching for the best way to melt the crayons to keep them as hot as possible while painting with them.
It's all still a learning process, a fun - and at times scary - one. Nevertheless, I'm determined to perfect this style. I have another sketch in the works so check back next month to see how that batik turns out.