Member Carol Law Conklin, of Amity Farm Batik, writes about making batik using bleach while enjoying the summer weather:

Losing the color

It was a beautiful summer morning. Hazy and not too hot. The gentle breeze felt good as I stood at the top of the hill behind our house. Mist slowly rose and changed the soft colors of the expansive view. The mountains, arranged in subtle layers of blues, greens and purple formed the backdrop as birds and insects fill the air with their music. There is so much life this time of year. Back at home, I’m contemplating the colors I want in several batik that have already gone through many dyebaths. As the dyes are translucent, there are limits to overlays of opposite colors. In order to achieve what I want it will be necessary to bleach out some areas before the desired color can be added.

The summer weather is the best for doing discharge dyeing (bleaching). This process is something not to be done inside. The bleach, which removes the color wherever the wax has not been applied to save the design, has quite strong fumes. To stop the bleaching action, I plunge the fabric into a solution of water and vinegar, gently agitated and left there for approximately 15 minutes. This produces more toxic fumes. The commercial product, “Bleach Stop” (sodium thiosulfate crystals), is even more effective, but I believe have stronger fumes. A respirator mask is recommended when working around toxic fumes and good ventilation is essential.

Different dyes and intensities of dye bleach in a variety of unpredictable ways. When using strong solutions for bleaching deep colors be extra careful. Acid and chlorine combined can kill! Monitor and stir the fabric as it bleaches. Various fabrics and dyelots take different times. Blue seems to bleach out overly quickly and thoroughly. Some colors change to a new color and not beige or white. Silk can stand only very weak bleaching without causing the fabric to deteriorate. Vinegar has an additional bleaching action and results are unpredictable as well as fascinating.

The photos show a batik in the bleaching tub, after bleaching and finally you can see my “Appaloosa Horse in Flower Field” at the top of the page after the re-dyeing and with the wax ironed out, bright and expressing the summer season.

Find more batik, articles and tutorials on Carol’s website: