Tool or Piece of Art?
This is a professional batik cap or tjap--pronounced 'chop'. Lunn Fabrics advertised a large shipment recently, and I had already been eyeing up the samples when I first saw the shop. There were so many enticing pieces to pick from, but I actually let my husband help pick it out. It fell between my love of busy, and his of simplified.
Looking from above, you can see the structural details. This piece is around 7.5" square. They are precisely constructed by hand to a designer's specification. When you lift the copper piece, you are surprised to feel the actual weight.
From the side view, you get a better idea.
The idea of finally having a tjap available to try meant there was an urgency to my project. I might have thought this out better, but I was a kid with a new toy. I have a small stash of Kona presoaked with soda ash for cases such as this, and I quickly set up shop. A fleece backed plastic table cloth protected the table, and I weighted the fabric with yogurt containers filled with water.
I use an electric skillet for melting my wax mixture, and never leave its side. Working with plenty of air exchange in my space, I first experimented on scrap paper. I had such a problem with too much wax transferring, and continued to empty the skillet until there was just a thin layer to dip the tjap. Much better, but not perfect. Some areas were too heavy, some too light, and a few were more or less okay. It was a first, and more about experimenting with process than perfection.
It was a cooler day, and I let the wax harden outside.
This is a concentrated Procion MX dye I mixed, and using both a sea sponge and a brush added to the waxed cloth that had been lightly spritzed with water. Where areas felt too dark, I spritzed more water.
The piece needed to process about a day for the dye to bond with the fabric. I simply burrito wrapped the fabric in the plastic table cloth, and tried to forget it. You can get a better idea of the over and under waxed areas with the contrast showing here.
The Lab Report
Lunn Fabrics has a lovely page documenting the batik process HERE. Their line, Artisan Batiks, are produced for Robert Kauffman Fabrics, and available in their store along with your local quilt stores. The assortment of copper tjaps are also listed through the link.
I will not be overly critical of my work because this was both a spontaneous and fun first time. I encountered a lot of hurdles, and I have some information on how to remedy many of those problems the next time around. Using a tjap has a steep learning curve, and the artisans make it look effortless. Don't be fooled. They're skilled experts!