Jun 132010

 punisher logo

Coach Foster is a comic book guy.  He likes all the superheroes, but the Punisher is his favorite.  He’s usually running around with a Punisher t-shirt, has a Punisher patch on most of his BJJ gis and the logo is pretty badass.  So, when I took his gi and offered to dye it for him, I thought this would be a perfect second project for my burgeoning batiking skills. 

If dying fabric is a skill, batik is a true art form.  In theory, the idea of applying wax to fabric as a resist for the dye is a pretty simple thing.  You melt some wax, put it where you need it and voila.  Right?  Wrong.

There are different waxes out there.  I use a mix of Bee’s Wax and Paraffin Wax.  The more paraffin wax you use, the more crackle you’ll get.  I wanted a significant amount of crackle in this, so I used a bit over 50% paraffin. 

grayGi002I use a little 7” electric skillet to melt my wax.  It works great.  In fact, this is exactly the kind I bought, although I got it locally on sale for under $15.

But here’s the thing.  According to the interwebs, the wax melts beginning at about 160F and the smoking point is around 240F.  Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot, where the wax is just right.  Too hot and it penetrates to much into the fabric and you don’t get any good crackle.  Not hot enough and it sets too much on the surface of the fabric and crackles right off.

I am not good enough yet to have total control over this, so I’m trying to pick projects that are forgiving.


Where you see it looks darker, that’s where the wax was too warm and the saturated the fabric.  In those spots, I can expect it to be completely white in the final product.  Up toward the top of the skull, I wasn’t quite warm enough, and that wax just flaked right off in the dye. 

Here’s an action shot while it’s still in the tub.  Bear in mind that the color is darker than it will be in the final product because it’s still wet.  This is after about 10 minutes in the tub.


And another one below after almost 30 minutes, just before I added the soda ash.  The second one is from my iPhone, but you can see on the forehead area where the dye has broken through the wax. 

punisher work in progress

And after removing the wax, it’s pretty clear that I didn’t get the wax to penetrate nearly enough in the forehead.  It’s okay, though.  I think it turned out really good.  The bottom half was perfect and looks EXACTLY how I’d hoped it would.  

The picture below is after taking off the wax, but just before washing it one last time.  I like the color a lot and in the picture below you can get a better sense of the final product.  I was hoping it would end up more toward red than purple, and while I was pretty confident it would lighten up some, it’s always a little iffy using a color I haven’t used before.  As you can see, it’s a bright red, on the darker side but definitely not purple.  The flash was on, so it looks brighter than it will once washed and dried completely.


And here’s the finished product.  After seeing it out of the wash, I have to say that I’m really, really happy with how it turned out.  I would have liked a little more skull to have stayed in the top right part, but the overall effect of it being messy is intentional and came out pretty much how I thought it would.   Bear in mind that the color is actually in between the two pictures.  The first is without a flash and the second is with the flash. 


So, there it is.  A one of a kind gi for James Foster, owner of Foster BJJ in Kent, WA.

 Posted by at 11:55 am

  19 Responses to “Punisher ShoYoRoll Super-Lite”

Comments (19)

    That is awesome man! :) You’re getting quite the master at this now Steve. When are you going to set up your own business!?! :)


      Adam, I’ve been mulling that over. I have a lot to learn, and a well established history of quitting things as soon as they become a second job. :)


    Dude, that is BAD. I mean it. BAD to the bone. Wow. How menacing would that be on the mat?!


    This is a whole nother level bro


      Cause i’m all about that! :) I’ve been mulling over the Orange Crush gi that’s next. My buddy needs his gi back, so I need to figure it out fast. He loves Captain America, but that doesn’t lend itself to the sloppiness of batik (at least how I do it).

      I might have to just dye it orange and be done with it. I know that would look pretty interesting.


        Well, if you’re handy with a paintbrush then fabric paints onto canvas cotton and sew it on as a patch might satisfy comic fans who want art on their gis!

        As an aside, I am planning a series of cartoons where various Superheroes perform BJJ techniques, gonna take a little time to do but I have some sketches done already and I’ll see where it goes from there.


          I need to play around with fabric paints. My only concern is that paints set on top of the fabric. So I’m not sure of they would hold up to the rigors of grappling. That’s why dye sublimation is so popular now over screenprinting for rash guards and such.

          I should just buy a few yards of canvas and play around.


            This is my only attempt at a painted patch (photo taken when freshly painted):


            It’s faded a lot, but not as bad as you would think given the number of usages and washes the gi has gone through. Maybe I should take an ‘after’ photo.

            But yes you’re right, inked-through rashies are way better, though limited to dark colours onto white material surely?


            I remember that! Very cool. What brand of paints did you use? Did you just heat set the paints with an iron?

            I’d love to see an “after” picture, to know what I can expect as far as fading and such go.


            I can’t remember the name of it, but there is something you mix into fabric paint which makes it soak deeper into the fabric instead of just being a surface paint. I got mine at Michael’s in 1995 and used it on a denim jacket I was painting on. It lasted through a lot of runs in the washing machine, road grime, thousands of miles, etc.

            That said, a gi is very thick, so I think you’ll get some saturation but probably not all the way through. But it will definitely resist abrasion from mat work.



    Found this post through Bullshido.net.

    I LOVE that gi! Totally and utterly cool. The Punisher skull is also probably the perfect, iconic thing to do this. But the execution here – art! You are skilled!

    This is a cool project, though. We should get together at my club doing a crafts night or something :) Thanks for the inspiration.


    Holy cow. That is SWEET. I am totally impressed. What color dye was that, and is it from Dharma?


      All the stuff is from dharma. Dye is maroon.

      Thanks, Georgette. I’m starting to think that $110 for a tie dye is cheap.



    That is seriously cool. Let me know if you start making more Punisher Gi’s, I’ll definitely be ordering :)


    that’s pretty sweet man.. the punisher logo is super cool!


    try RIT dye remover on the forehead of the skull, it will at least remove a little bit of the dye without harming the fabric like bleach

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