I started this particular project a while back, and for several reasons, just couldn’t get around to finishing it until now.
This is my first try at using a process called Batik to add a pattern to the gi. I tried something relatively simple for my first try, opting to avoid layering the dye. Instead, I added melted wax and kept the design simple. What you see is the lotus blossom design that is part of the BJJ affiliation our school belongs to.
Batik is essentially a process where you add wax to areas that you don’t want to dye. In researching the process, I found some truly stunning works of art done on fabric using this process. Real artists essentially work backwards, using negative space and an understanding of how colors build on each other to lay down some wax, dye the fabric, lay down more wax to protect additional areas, dye it again, repeating the process until they’re finished. Check out some of these images on Google. Incredible.
I toyed with the idea of adding the text around the lotus blossom, but as I said, I wanted to keep it somewhat abstract.
I’ve dyed several BJJ kimonos now, and feel pretty confident that I can tub dye pretty much any white gi and do a good job. So, I wasn’t too concerned about getting the color consistent without any undue splotchiness. What I wasn’t sure about was what the design would look like after I dyed the gi and then removed the wax.
I started by just drawing my design in pencil. Then I melted the wax in a small… very small electric skillet. This thing is great. Before I saw the electric skillet, I was really stumped as to how I was going to keep the wax at a consistent temperature where it was melting but not overheating and smoking.
As you can see, I used a candy thermometer to make sure I wasn’t getting too hot. The little skillet was like $12 at the store.
And here’s what the design looked like after I added the wax. This is really more difficult that it looks. I mean, dumping wax isn’t hard, and to be honest, staying in the lines wasn’t all that hard either. What’s going to take some practice is adding the wax so that it’s not too thick or thin on the fabric.
I got to this point about a month ago, and there it sat until tonight.
This is what it looked like after I was done. While some variation in color is really a part of the process, and crackling is actually desirable, I’m sure I can do a better job next time. I think this looks pretty cool, though.
Below is a close up of the back.
Overall, I’m pretty happy. I’m not entirely satisfied with the final look of it, but I learned a lot about the process, and I’ll have some more confidence going into my next project. I think the gi is wearable and it’s definitely unique. Ultimately, while it’s not perfect, I’m pretty happy with my first try and look forward to playing around with this some more.
If anyone has any questions about what I did or how, please let me know.