Monday, February 27, 2012

Working with Resists - Tip #1

After experimentation with a wide variety of resists, I have concluded that one's satisfaction with the end result and enjoyment of the process is related to a number of  factors.  This post is the first of several that outline my "tips for success".

#1 Leave your expectations behind

This is often difficult for artists.  We have a vision, an outcome we want to achieve.  We may even have a strong desire to control the process.You'll enjoy your work with resists more if you can leave that part of yourself outside the studio.

The thrill of working with resists is in the unveiling of the cloth after the resist is washed out.  You never really know exactly what the end result will be. Rather than trying to control it, delight in the unexpected! The end result you achieve with a resist is dependent on so many factors; it is hard to control them all.  Even if you think you have limited your variables, a new one pops up that you hadn't considered. The end results may be exactly as you expected, or they may be completely different. So my advice is to enjoy the end result, whatever it may be. Below are a couple of my “failures”.

Gel glue resist
The labyrinth image on this cloth was created by applying gel glue with a thermofax.  Instead of blocking the dye, the color seems to have wicked into the glue. So instead of the labyrinth being a paler color than the background, it is darker.  I learned that can happen with a thin coating of glue.  Even though this isn’t what I expected, it’s useful to know this and now I use this technique on purpose.

Flour paste resist
This cloth was created with a flour paste resist. The crackle pattern is not as strong as I wanted, and the dye breached the resist in large patches.  I realized that the culprit was wrapping it in black plastic and letting it batch outside on a hot day. Again, not what I expected, but it’s still a great background for some additional printing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the end results are always unpredictable.  With practice, and an understanding of a resist’s basic characteristics, you can usually envision what will occur.  However, even when you did everything “right”, sometimes it doesn’t turn out as expected.  That’s when to let go and enjoy the serendipity of the process.  

View Tip #2

Read about working with sugar syrup resist

Read about working with acrylic medium resist

Read about working with flour paste resist 

Read about working with oatmeal resist
Read about working with potato dextrin resist

Read about working with soy wax resist


  1. Great tip - loved the post - but leaving expectations behind is key! Always a good thing whether in art, or life! --- as the definition of expectation is: "a predetermined decision for future disappointment"

    1. I love that definition, Leslie! How true.


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