FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye Questions

This week: Resist dyeing resources and more

(Top image: Aboubakar Fofana)

Every week, we are emailed with questions from our natural dye community asking simple and complex questions that we thought might be worth sharing. Of course, all of your burning questions are answered by natural dyer in chief, Kathy Hattori, Founder of Botanical Colors.

This week we received two questions on resist dyeing:

I’m wanting to create a resist paste to use with indigo, I have guar gum paste! Do you have any recipes I could try?

I saw your pictures on Instagram of mud dyeing with Aboubakar Fofana and was wondering if you used wax?

For people who want to make paste resists for indigo (it does not work with hot dye baths because the heat dissolves the paste). Check out John Marshall’s website for recipes and classes on katazome. He also has a DVD on katazome that is amazing. This is the traditional Japanese method of making a rice paste resist. There are also Chinese and other Asian methods using soy bean flour and lime (or similar materials), and in India the dabu (dhabu) mud resist is very famous.

Related story: An Interview With Textile and Shibori Guru Joan Morris

For people who want to make up their own resists, they will need to experiment. Guar gum, gum tragacanth, gum arabic are all traditional plant gums used mainly to thicken pigments and dyes so that the dye or pigment has a bit of body for painting, screen printing or block printing. I have never used these as resists. That doesn’t mean that they won’t work, it’s that I am not familiar with that specific use. Does not work with heat.

For people who want to stitch or clamp, these are also traditional Japanese techniques and other cultures do this as well. Yoshiko Wada wrote the book Shibori that is considered one of the best resources on the history and practice of shibori, complete with techniques. There are a ton of books on shibori and they can choose whatever works for them.

Have fun and don’t worry about being perfect, just play around!