Qualities of the Wax

In my studio, I work with three different types of wax: Beeswax, which is soft and does not crackle; paraffin, a harder wax that, used alone, can crackle too much, to the extent that your image can be lost; and also soy wax, which I buy in bags of flaked wax. This is the softest of waxes and leaves a very soft line compared to the paraffin/beeswax mix.

When I work on a batik with the tjanting tool I like to use mostly a mix with more paraffin in it than beeswax, and this gives me a crisp, sharp line. If I come to areas that I do not want crackling, I have to use pure beeswax, but usually I would use a mix — a little more of beeswax than paraffin. If I want a very muted batik and I want to use the natural plant-based wax, I will use the soy wax, and this leaves a soft line. It is a very porous wax, so color leaches into the waxed areas and you end up with different muted shades.

I want to show you some examples of how the different waxes look under different conditions.

You can see a paper towel in my left hand that I use to catch the drops when I go back to get more hot wax. All the time I am working, the wax in the tjanting is cooling, and it will either run out of the wax or it will cool so that it doesn’t penetrate the fabric. At that point, I have to dip the tjanting into the wax again and hold it there for a very short time so the tjanting gets warm again so it will perform. The unicorn batik in the center was done quite a long time ago, but you can see the lines that the tjanting made very clearly as they outline the unicorn, the flowers, and the chasm below. The tjanting here provides a structure for the progress of this batik.

Below, as you look at the Pegasus and the unicorn in the middle and also the unicorns rising from dreams on the right, you can see shades of color within the bodies of the unicorn and the Pegasus. Those shades are produced by applying with a brush very hot wax to the image. And as the hot wax hits the fabric, it bubbles a little bit, making a porous area that is darkened. The artist needs to be very careful as they’re doing this, because overly hot wax can burst into flames. So be careful as you try to heat wax to very high temperatures. You never want it to begin to splatter or bubble.

As you’re working with a brush to fill in the areas with the hot wax, you need to keep a slight distance from the line of the tjanting tool, or it will begin to melt and you will not see that crisp line.

The batik below you see the horse dreaming of unicorns, flying up from the tree; my magical frogs batik in progress; and a close-up detail of the magical frogs on the far right. It is interesting to see the wax before it is ironed out, and you can see all of the crackling in the design where the dye will seep in and form that interesting crackle that I love so much. These were made using a good amount of paraffin into the beeswax/paraffin mix, the secret to getting that sharp crackle. And now on to the soy wax…

The batik below were all done using soy wax and have a more muted line with areas with color seeping into wax, forming areas that are similar to the wax that is heated to make a soft tone within the light color.  The soy wax is very similar to the paraffin/beeswax to work with, but has the more muted, less sharp edge. When it comes time to remove soy wax, it is reported it can be washed out with hot water and detergent. I cannot recommend trying this in your washing machine as I did! Maybe the water wasn’t hot enough, but it did not all wash out very well but it did leave a residue I had to fight with for some time. Of course, many have good luck boiling wax out of the fabric, and that could be done here, as long as the dyes are set very well and you have a safe place to work. One of my followers, Linda Valentino, suggested a large roasting pan with a cover could be used on a stove safely, which sounds like a good idea, something maybe I will try, but I prefer to try it on a simple batik that I have not spent months working on.

I have not included the synthetic batik waxes, which have a soft quality similar to my paraffin/beeswax mix, as I have not used these. They are a little less expensive, and I think they would produce similar results.

I get my batiking supplies – my fabric, my wax, my fiber reactive dyes, my silk dyes, and the tools from dharmatrading.com in California. They have been in business since 1969. They also have books, materials for scarves and for dyeing wool and lots of other things. They are good at finding information about handling different products in their catalogs and on their website, and I can talk to an actual person later in the day because they are three hours behind us here in the East. There are also other good companies around like Pro Chemical in Fall River, Massachusetts and others.

I hope you have fun with your batiking and now you have more knowledge of selecting your waxes. There are so many variations that you will find.

Planning my designs

Many people ask me where my inspiration comes, and how do I plan my designs for my batik artwork. I have two different ways of approaching a batik. Some of my batiks are done mostly with the tjanting tool, which is a brass or copper bowl with a spout. The tjanting is a very ancient tool and makes lines of wax. The wax flows out very quickly and I always need to have a cloth or a paper towel nearby to catch the drops that I don’t want to fall on the fabric until I place it down and start to draw.

Wax added to the frog’s leg. Photo by Derek Pruitt of the Post Star.

The tjanting is ideal for making spontaneous flowing lines. I do plan the batik with a light sketch, but the tjanting tool has little to do with the lines that a pencil will make. It needs its own space, and defies being held to rigid forms. I especially like to do horses with the tjanting tool as the manes and tails catch the elements of the wind and breath and movement of the horse. The tjanting creates an image of the spirit of the horse and the movement, and is very ethereal, but the horses are not solid at all. They are part of the wind. I will add many stages of the tjanting lines to build up a batik in many colors of flowing manes and sometimes tails. And you can see some of the progress in the photos that I’ve included here.

The other type of batik I do can be very detailed and for this type of batik, I do have to make a sketch ahead of time. I will highlight the sketch in a black marker and then I will trace it onto the white cotton. After that, it is most usually by using a brush that I draw the wax into the design. The most critical of times to use this method is when I am doing batik of trees and their branches.

When this type of batik happens, I need to paint the sky around the tree branches with wax. So I am painting the negative space, and the branches are left behind unpainted to accept the dye. This is one of the aspects of batik that the printmaking process I did in the past really helps. So you can see in the pictures here how I trace the branches out on the fabric and transfer them to the cotton and am then ready to paint in the empty areas around the branches with plain white wax. The most famous of the batik with this design are Unicorns Rise from Dreams, and also Horse Sleeps Below Tree of Rebirth. It was essential that I plan these out very carefully. Some of my other batik have parts of it planned to detail and other parts left for a slow development of the design as the process moves on.

The one thing about the dyes – the blue colors in the fiber reactive dyes used for cotton are the most expensive of the dyes, and I really enjoy blue. However, they are the easiest to bleach away. So very often I will use a blue early and be able to go in with other colors later on which do not bleach away as well. Ironically enough for my fiber reactive dyes on cotton, yellow is very difficult to bleach out, usually. So if you see small areas of blue early on in a batik like in Below it All, blue was the first color dyed in, and then it was bleached and a lot of colors, reds and greens, were added later on.

Below It All

The designs do come to me as I’m working, and there are things that happen with the dye and the wax that will never be recreated. Temperature of the wax is different, it might be paraffin which crackles easily, or beeswax, which seldom crackles, or the softer lines of soy wax can all have an effect. The colors of the dyes are translucent so I normally start with a light shade and build up by wax and dye with the deeper colors as the batik progresses. I may decide partway through that I want to go back with some other lighter colors and I will bleach areas out, and then I will be able to go back in with some of the contrasting colors that without this stage would make a brown.

But the whole process is a great interaction of what comes out through my hand and what the dyes give me. The dyes themselves are always changing. As you use them, color is pulled out, so your next dye bath out of the same bucket can be different, usually lighter. But that too is affected by the temperature of the dye and how long the fabric is left in the dye bath. So when I finish a batik I feel that the spirits of wax and dyes have helped me to create this. As I iron it out, I enjoy how bright it looks, and it always makes me excited to see the finished design.

 

Removing the Wax

The batik is finally finished, covered with wax, and now it’s time to remove it and reveal the bright colors underneath.

There are several ways to do this. Some artists, especially in Indonesia, boil the wax out of the fabric. This has the advantage of having the wax rise to the top, and when it cools, removing the wax and using it again. For my purposes, I have no good place to do this. Wax can boil over very easily, and with a gas stove it would be easy to burn the house down, so I don’t do this method. If there were an area with an outside fire pit, it would be well worth trying. I do a lot of large batik, which would make it even harder for me.

Another method is to use dry cleaning chemicals, fluid, I’m not sure the word, but I’m not anxious to try dealing with chemicals like that on my property. I have a feeling they would be bad to inhale, and also difficult to dispose of.

So my method is to iron the wax out by placing my batik between newsprint. The newsprint that is next to the batik has to be plain newsprint.

I can use old newspapers as a section to absorb beyond a layer of plain newsprint, but if it were next to the batik, the ink could transfer on to it. And that could be interesting if you want to have current events on your art, but I like to get away from that. Good for making political statements. In my art, I like to picture nature and a world almost without technology, even though I appreciate technology and appreciate working with it every day. But I like to see nature in what I call “all time.”

So I put down the plain layer of newsprint or a couple of layers of newsprint, then the batik, then more layers on top of the batik, and with my ancient hand iron, I start to go over the newsprint. When the paper is saturated with wax, I pull it apart and take it away and replace the bottom layer of newspaper, then place my batik, more clean newspaper on top, then iron again. The newspaper will likely need to be changed again. Some batik have a lot more wax than other batik, but a small batik can usually be ironed out in about fifteen minutes. Some of my larger pieces have taken over an hour to get the wax out of.

It’s not a great project for a hot day. I try to do it early in the morning. Sometimes in the evening, but out on my porch the heat lingers too late in the summertime. When all the wax has been removed, I have a big pile of newsprint which I crumple. I usually save it for the cool months and use it to start fires in the wintertime in our woo stove. It works great. As the batik appears with the wax out, the colors are brilliant. Before then, the wax adds a cloudy look to the artwork. But I also find the look very interesting.

After all these years, I am still excited by seeing my batik as they emerge from the wax.

On Monday, WMHT’s Matthew Rogowicz and Brian Flynn arrived to do an interview and take video of me doing my batik artwork. We had the interview out on the lawn next to my dye buckets on a beautiful summer morning.

I call it my outdoor studio. One reason I like to do my dyeing in the warm months is so I can have my buckets outside and spill and splash to my heart’s content without destroying my home. The air, the wind, was perfect. We had to stop talking when trucks drove by down on the highway, but Matt had lots of great questions for me, and Brian did a wonderful job of taking the videos and adjusting the cameras.

As I first sat down in the chair in front of the two lights and got my microphone, I had a few pangs of nervousness. My makeup crew had never shown up that morning and I was very lucky to have even brushed my hair, plus I had on my oldest jeans and a splattered shirt, which is what I need when I’m dyeing batik, as other clothing would soon look the same. But with good questions and great guys to work with, I relaxed and had a good time answering the questions.

It wasn’t long before everything, cameras, lights, and myself walked upstairs to see the beginning of the waxing process, the middle of the waxing process, and later times with the waxing process, with trips back downstairs and outside to go to the dye buckets, and a short session on bleaching colors out thrown in as well.

It was a good session, and I still hadn’t finished the final stage as the batik had to stay in the dye for an hour and I didn’t want to hold up Matt and Brian, so I sent down these pictures to them so they could see the result.

They also have many pictures of my original batik, and they will show the whole story on Wednesday night, August 28, at 7:30 on WMHT, which is Channel 11, and also 17, depending on your television provider. They will have something on their Facebook Page to go along with it, and I expect I will be able to provide a link so that people who are interested can hear the interview if they can’t get to see it on television.

I hope you will tune in, and remember that you can click here to shop.

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The gift horse

It has been three months to the day now since I flew off of Star while riding up on the trails behind my house.

It was a slow recovery. I got used to using a walker, a cane, and gradually climbing up the hill again where I go in the warm months to just be, and to stretch and do Tai Chi. But I have made it back. A bit stiff and out of condition, but I am on the road to recovery again. I notice when I am up on the hill overlooking everything that I feel connected to the earth. My feet touch the ground and it feels soft and welcoming this time of year. I also notice that when I stand at the top of the hill on a sunny day in the morning that my head is surrounded by a halo, which is the droplets of dew intensified in the morning sun. But I like to think that it’s partly being connected to everything.

I’ve had a hard time thinking. I’ve had a hard time starting to get back into condition, but I am achieving it. I’m back to my yoga practices, which has accelerated the whole process a lot. But now there are questions of what will happen — where do I go with Star?

It was early August when my friend Monica was riding Star. She wanted to ride to help keep her in condition, and Monica is an experienced rider and it looked like a good idea that I rode a neighbor’s horse nice and quiet and Monica rode Star. We had a good ride in the woods. Star had been acting perfectly, but on the way home, something spooked her and she tossed Monica off. The roadway was rocky and very hard, and Monica was injured badly, and she went off to the hospital.

This has caused me, I want to say, as much pain as it has caused her – but maybe that’s not true. But she is undergoing the same recovery that I went through. I’d like to think it won’t take as long.

I have to say I feel ashamed that it happened. I look at Star, who is a beautiful pony, and I know she didn’t do it on purpose. But the result is still months of recuperation, quite a setback. I know I do not want to send Star away. I will continue to work with her on the ground, lunging, doing liberty work and taking her for walks, but right now I do not want to risk another episode of flying through the air and injuring myself. I will ride another, quieter horse, for now.

Star had issues with trusting humans when she arrived and was extremely nervous. She still is flighty, and very cautious about new people and new situations. I’m glad she loves Vanilla the llama. He was the main reason that I wanted to have Star come and be here with him.

I cannot make any solid decisions right now. It’s like this great elusive dream slipping away from me when I consider having her and not riding her. Because there is something very special about riding off into the woods with the gentle movement of a horse that is also enjoying the ride.

I do not have Star simply to ride her. I have to come to grips with the main reason that I have a horse is because I love them, I enjoy caring for animals. I love to see her, I love to hear her whinny, and I am happy that my grouchy llama likes her too (finally!). So, for now, I will have to just evolve and see how things work out. I would not want to consider another person taking her and then in a year or two deciding to part with her and have her go someplace where she didn’t have a good home. So I am happy with that.

Her human trust issues are deep-seated. The hoof that she arrived with that had a deep cut, the pattern goes right down her hoof and has to have been a horrible experience to recover from. A lot of restraint has to have been needed to help her recover. I have a feeling that this restraint made her hypersensitive and extra fearful.

I have worked with cows who have been injured, but horses are much more expressive and agile when they are hurt. I do put this injury as a likely cause of much of Star’s fear of being hurt. It has to have been extremely difficult to restrain her and she has to have experienced a lot of pain getting this hoof healed. When she first arrived, I was looking at her hoof with my friend Monica. We just looked at the hoof and Star screamed. Noone was touching her, or even touching her leg. It just had such bad memories. As time went on, it was fine to brush that leg and finally to pick up the hoof and clean it out, and Star is good about that with me, now, and good with the woman who trims her feet.

When she gets in a situation where something new happens or she is spooked, she kind of has a PTSD response which I do not seem to be able to reach beyond, and for humans too, it’s hard to go on with your life when you have this type of trigger in your mind. So I have to respect that. And I will move forward doing the best that I can. I have seen Star settle and become more accepting since last spring in 2018 when she arrived here. There is so much more that needs to be done. I don’t know if more quiet time and quiet handling and age will result in a quieter horse, or whether she will carry the fear response with her throughout her life. I have to work through this as well as Star.

Blueberry Weekend

Vanilla is still miffed at me for having someone else feed him while I was in recovery. He has been very grouchy, but on this visit, he took an apple from Henry, which is a big accomplishment.

The hot sun blazes down on the Day Lilies and Star and Vanilla search for shade and cool water, grazing in the early morning and evenings. Summer is here!

As some of you know I flew off my pretty mare Star in mid-May and badly injured my back, barely able to walk I was lucky to get help from friends to get the daily tasks and shopping done and care for Star and Vanilla.

The berries are coming. We have all stages right now. There will be lots more in the week ahead.

I know I have been a bit slow with orders and responses in this time as even sitting was painful. The first day of summer I had a severe heart event and headed to the hospital in an ambulance. Now on medication, I am on the recovery path. Two months later I am better but not able to deal with lifting things over ten pounds. I have not been able to get any batik done.

Then this past weekend (call it Blueberry weekend) my friend and web designer Kate Austin-Avon and her family made their annual visit yesterday. They come when the berries are ripe. Cory got my dye bucket area ready by weed whacking and then helped get my dye buckets out of the cellar for me.

My dye buckets are out in the light and I am free to start finishing some of my work that has been sitting in my studio for months. Thank you to everyone for your patience and appreciation of my art.

Flying off a Horse

The warm spring sun in May rarely shines for all the rain. The meadows and pastures are green and thick. When the sun shines it is heaven and I remember wondering how I would face the challenge of keeping Star and Vanilla well cared for and get my dye buckets ready for the summer dyeing season. Two passions I love conflicting with one another. I had visions of happily riding Star in the woodland trails climbing the hills and crossing the brooks to arrive in open meadows with spectacular views of the mountains. I also saw myself waxing new batik in my studio and happily bringing them outdoors to dye. It is always a surprise as I pull my batik cotton fabric out of the dye bucket. The dyes filling in the spider crackling that is part of the character of wax, of the ancient batik process.

This is the Woodland Smiles silk painted scarf.

But that day in mid-May when Star got frightened and I flew off her on the stony trail in the woods changed all that.

I knew my back and pelvis were damaged immediately and little Star galloped off to home. Fortunately, my phone was able to connect with my neighbor Monika and she answered before the call got dropped. I was on the edge of a dead zone. I slowly walked and sometimes crawled back home, fortunately, most of the walk was downhill. Star had found herself in the big meadow next to our house and Monika got her unsaddled and bridled and set for the night.

I made my way to the house and announced to Dick what had happened. The next day I was off to the hospital with my good friend Joanne who stayed with me for the seven hours before I was released. Many nerves in my crumbling back were pinched and I could barely walk. No riding and no batik for now.

I am grateful I live in a gorgeous spot and just sitting outdoors this time of year is something to be grateful for. I needed lots of help at first bringing home appreciation for those who are permanently disabled or old and will not return to an active life. Star and Vanilla have gotten good care and I am now, July 5th beginning to be back out with Star brushing her, putting on fly protection and lunging her a little bit. Vanilla has been a bit resentful at me not caring for him and has gotten spitty as some llamas do. He is slow to forgive but has begun.

My studio is filled with unfinished batik and silk scarves and I am ready to begin some work on them. At first, even sitting at the computer was very painful and blocked my efforts to blog and send out my newsletters. Bending over my waxing table impossible and I still will need help with getting my dye buckets set up. But there is hope! I still have a long way to go. I am lucky this happened in warm weather when the water goes out by a hose instead of being carried by hand through the snow and ice and the manure is mostly spread off in the pastures by the animals and not needing lots of cleaning in the stalls. The July sun is hot and shinning and at last, I am slowly climbing to the hilltop above my house to enjoy the light of summer.

The bee balm is starting to bloom. It seems to have a special glory on the Fourth of July.

Thank you for bearing with me. I have been able to get some new work out to sell from batik I finished before this accident.

I am grateful for having such good customers…

Batik Tutorial

Here is a batik tutorial video clip from 2015.

A gift from Dick

The dashboard of my car had a tiny plastic cow sitting on it, a jersey cow. I knew right away Dick had set it there….. He had left some other days and I still keep one up in the bedroom.

I met Dick in Ashfield, Mass after his new herd of jersey cows broke out of their pasture and came to visit my horses. My friend Johanna and I herded them back to the rented farm and although Dick was not home ( probably off partying!) I was to meet him soon. I have to confess my heart was taken by Dick, his wide-eyed cows and his adorable daughter Jaka….

I had been milking cows to help a neighbor and had become attracted to the quiet grounded energy that I felt around cows. The Jerseys with their mischievous and gentle nature drew me in…

As time went on we married, moved to another farm where Dick’s herd was part of a much larger Jersey cow farm for a couple years until we found our farm in Hartford NY with the Adirondack Mountains in view. The farm was named Amity (means Friendship ) and the name came from my beautiful Morgan mare, Green Meads Amity, who was gone but never to be forgotten.

Our lives were a challenge and we had the most rewarding and heartbreaking experiences. Financially it was always difficult but I would not change my experiences with Dick, Jaka, the cows and the farm for anything. It was an exciting point when we converted our herd to rotational grazing. I spent much time with the herd and pasture set up for daily plots of fresh grass during the warm months. There was less need for machines to harvest feed, so we saved on fuel, machinery repair and needed less equipment. We saved on bedding and there was less manure to spread as the cows were leaving it in the pasture. As the fields were rotated each plot of grass was given a resting time to recover and produce new grass and clover for another day of fresh nutritious feed. This meant the cows were happy to follow me to the fields. Many thought we were crazy at the time, Jerseys and grazing!

As time went on Dick wrote a lot about pasture findings, growth, fertility, plant species and managing a herd with rotational grazing. He became part of the SARI committee reviewing grants for Sustainable Agriculture. Later he became part of a mission to Moldova to help farmers there learn many of the grazing benefits. Moldova looked a lot like this country in the 1940s. He was a valued source of grazing information while we were on the farm and after we left it due to his knees giving out.

A sick llama is a grouchy llama

Vanilla in his coat, back on his feet

It was Saturday morning that I went out to the barn and my llama Vanilla lay in his stall, and did not bother to come to eat his grain.

This has never happened.

He’s always had a very healthy appetite, and when I saw that I knew he was very sick. He did get up. He was very cold. And he tried to pee and he couldn’t. I could tell something was drastically wrong with him right away. It is strange that the day before, a friend was over helping me clean down Star’s stall and remarked that he wasn’t even spitting; He must be getting sick. But he was eating and drinking so well, I still thought he was fine and getting friendlier.

So I called the veterinarian. Of course, it was Saturday, and that required the extra emergency fee and overtime, but I was glad I did.

Apparently Vanilla had a urinary stone which many, males especially, can get. Unfortunately, llamas have a more difficult stem to the bladder than other species do. It has an angle in it, making it very difficult to access. My veterinarian gave him injections of antibiotics, Banamine which is an anti-inflammatory as well as a painkiller, and then he had to be anesthetized to try and clear the stone from his bladder.

Poor Vanilla! He was so cold. He looked so miserable.

And after working for over 45 minutes, an improvement was made on this cold dreary day, but there was still no certainty that everything was cleared out. Vanilla gradually was able to get back on his feet and although he was weaving a bit, he held his head as high as he could as though to shake off the indignity that he had just experienced.

Head held high!

He really doesn’t like me to talk about this, but so many people have asked, that I have to say something.

During all this, it appeared that the bladder had constricted his whole digestive system, and his stomach and intestines were not even functioning at that time, likely because they were blocked. So he was also given probiotics and medications to stimulate his stomach to return to normal. Then he was supposed to get shots, probiotics and an ammonium chloride solution drenched down his throat daily for four days.

Well, I was able to give the injections with the help of neighbors – brave neighbors that is, because he is not that easy to handle. And thanks to the treatments, his ability to have his stomach function and for him to spit it back at people returned very quickly. So my friend Monica came over to help me on Sunday morning and we did deliver the shots and we put an extra fleece pad under his blanket for warmth.

But when I tried to give him the ammonium chloride solution to drench it down his throat, it was a disaster for many reasons. One, llamas have an extremely long neck. Two, he was throwing back his cud at me, which is pretty wretched because it basically is throw-up, when I was trying to administer the treatment. And consequently, the treatment wasn’t going down. He kept fighting me while tossing his head to have me gouge his mouth with it and he started bleeding. He started choking because he was spitting back his cud and it was awful.

“Another step and I’ll spit!”

Then he fell down and he acted like he was going to die, and Monica and I were trying to revive him and he was gasping for breath.

I just didn’t know what to do. Neither of us did.

But we kept supporting Vanilla, and after five minutes he managed to get back on his feet and again, held his head very high in the air, more insulted than ever. So this is why I have a very grouchy llama, and I really can’t blame him. I did call the veterinarian and told her I just couldn’t give the ammonium chloride, and she is seeking to find a coated bolus that we could give him so the medication would reach his stomach without irritating him.

The history of Vanilla is that way back my neighbor bought him and a buddy of his at an auction. The tale was that these two llamas had been in a field with some horses, and the woman who owned them had died, so they went to the auction. We don’t really know how old Vanilla was at that time. He is likely older than thought. My neighbor jokes that he saved these llamas and they should be grateful to him, and they probably were, in their own way.

But when I got Vanilla a few years later and he came to my house, I was told that he used to rush over to the fence to people and he would spit on them.

“Now you tell me!” I said.

“I don’t need any more shots!”

I thought Vanilla was the most wonderful llama, because when I first went to see him, he rushed over and kissed me. I thought it would always be a honeymoon. But that was not to be! It took three years for me to be able to look him in the eye and have him not put on his grouchy face. The first time he was shorn of his heavily matted coat (I don’t think he had been shorn in his life) he spit at me for a month. Still, we persisted living with each other and me waiting on him, and him occasionally greeting me with a nice kiss.

He has a beautiful stature about him, very elegant, and he can be friendly. When he would come to me at night out of his pasture to get his special grain and a treat of an apple, he would always remind me of a unicorn coming out of the twilight. Something magical about him. Now he has his llama coat, and his well-bedded stall, and his medications, and me and friends of mine – brave friends! – come to help me straighten out his blanket to keep it in the proper position. And I hope he will return to being a healthy llama.

He is acting pretty good today and he doesn’t need any more shots, thankfully. Without those shots, I think he will return again to being a friendly, happy llama. I hope so.

I was exhausted and probably as traumatized as Vanilla. And I was afraid he might die.

I also didn’t want this to be our last experience together. I feel that in trying to make animals and humans well, we can expose them to some awful things, many of which they would be better off without.

Just my opinion.

The Fence — Serti Technique

Silk Painting and the Fence

Scarves ready for the soy wax

Star, my pony, has been so good about respecting the one line white poly tape fences that I put up and move frequently. This gives her new sections of grass. She happily eats within the area and there is a line at the edge where eaten to uneaten grass meet. A design is formed.

This is not new to me. Our cows had fresh patches of grass daily during the grazing season. One of the reasons they so happily followed me to pasture is that they did have this fresh grass each day. I was known around town as the Pied Piper of cows. They followed me, single file, to the meadows.

This year, as I got to my hand dyed and silk painted scarves, I decided to try something new.

Painting within the fence

My silk scarves are dyed and then painted directly with silk dyes in a watercolor technique. The dye spreads out from the brush as it is painted on the silk. My batik process has a sharper definition to it and I decided to try integrating batik into my silk painted scarves. I chose soy wax as it is a softer wax than my batik/paraffin wax mix. It can be removed from the silk much better, leaving the fabric soft and flowing.

Many silk painters use the Serti Technique. Serti means fence. Gutta, a sticky substance that resists dye, is used by silk painters in most cases, but because I am a batik artist, I chose soy wax to enclose the color.

The color is enclosed by a fenced area of wax, then the dye is painted carefully into the design. The dye will spread out to the edge where the wax encloses it and stop just as Star stops when she gets to the edge of her fence — hopefully (she always has). So I am enclosing a few pictures here of some scarves that have been dyed but have not had the design painted on them yet. Then a picture of me painting dye into an area. And finally, some pictures of a finished scarf. I plan to do more of this in the months to come, and next year. It is an even more time-consuming process, so there won’t be many, and these will show up on my blog post and in my Etsy shop, so I hope you will watch for them.

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