Wokingham Art Society

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Deborah Vallance, Paper Batik, 18th May 2010
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Webmaster's note: Pictures to follow, I hope.
This demo was very different from our usual art demos, and very inspiring it was too! Deborah produces unusual, abstract pictures with bright, jewel-like colours, by using wax-resist and coloured dyes.

She began by explaining the equipment she had brought. She had an electrically heated container for wax, to keep it liquid. Bristle brushes are best for painting with wax because other brushes deteriorate too quickly. She also had a gadget called a tjanting, which is used to produce a fine line in wax. The colours she uses are Procion dyes.

Then Deborah began work. Two pieces of good quality, acid free white tissue paper were laid on top of white newsprint. The newsprint acts as a support, but also absorbs some of the dye, producing an extra design which can be used later on. Then using the warm wax, a large brush and the tjanting, she painted a loose design on the tissue paper. She explained she had no idea what it was going to be! Using a large sponge brush she wet the whole sheet, then painted colours where she wanted them. At this point thin household bleach was sprayed here and there as required.
When all this was dry she startled us by crumpling the tissue into a small ball! This was straightened out again and brushed with bleach. The two sheets were separated and hung on a clothes horse to dry. The whole process was repeated several times using different coloured tissues and dyes, then all were hung up to dry.

While we had coffee Deborah ironed all her made sheets, which not only smoothed them, but melted the wax resulting in a lovely transparent effect in places.

After the break Deborah composed her picture, by tearing up her made papers, and positioning them on boxboard as a collage. She fixed the pieces by brushing over with wax. When she was happy with the arrangement she used a scalpel to cut away any overlaps.

This takes a lot of time when she does her pictures at home. Finally she smoothed the entire surface with the iron and trimmed round the sides. She added a few highlights with gutta, squeezed directly from a tube.

The result was a colourful, interesting and brilliant picture.
Pat Johnson

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