Thursday, February 9, 2012

Working with Resists

Sacred Path, silk with oatmeal resist

Over the past seven years, I've been working to expand my expertise with resists .  Ever since a friend invited me over to play with potato dextrin eight years ago, I have heard their siren call.  I've tried most of  the commercially available products and just about anything available from the grocery store that forms a paste. One of the things I discovered in my play is that it takes tenacity.  Early on, I gave up on some resists because I didn't like the results. I later realized that I just hadn't found the right formula or technique.

Working with resists is kind of like magic.  When you apply it, you have no idea what the final piece will look like.  And when you paint on the dye, you end up with a stiff, ugly, strange-looking piece of fabric.  Then, once you wash off the resist and excess dye, the pattern appears, seemingly out of thin air!

This detail view of Sacred Path is a good example of the magic. I used oatmeal for the background layer on the two right-hand pieces. The beautiful patterning didn't show up until I had washed off all the oatmeal and excess dye.

One of the things I found during my experimentation is that there is not a readily accessible knowledge base on how to use these techniques.  There are a few books with a few pages or a chapter on resists, and you can find things here and there on the internet, but there isn't a comprehensive resource.  I wanted to share what I've learned, so I produced a DVD on the use of five resists  in 2010.  I wanted to cover all the resists, but I realized that would be a very long DVD!  Last year I embarked on a book project to offer more information on the use of resists. It was a long process, and soon my vision will be reality.  My book, Visual Texture: Create Stunning ArtCloth with Water-Based Resists will be released this June.  It is a comprehensive guide to the use of resists, covering 8 resists and 7 techniques for applying them.  Over the coming months, I'll be posting photos of cloth I created for the book and more information about the techniques. For now, if you would like to learn more, visit the Visual Texture website. 


  1. Oh Lisa, this is wonderful! I love this piece!!!!


  2. Lisa, I am really looking forward to your book. I have notes written on random pieces of paper with less-than-good information. It will be nice to have it all compiled by our pioneer!


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