Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Working with Resists - Sugar Syrup

I have decided to make Tuesdays resist day.  Over the next few months, I'll be interspersing tips for working with resists along with info and photos for each of the techniques in my new book, Visual Texture on Fabric. For more info about the book and the special drawing for those who pre-order it, see the end of this blog post.

Last week I posted my first tip.  This week I'll focus on one of the resists - sugar syrup. I heard about sugar syrup years ago as a resist for silk painting.  I didn't have much success with it, so I gave up on it.  A few years ago I decided to try it again. I like it because it is easy to mix, very inexpensive, readily available and easy to wash out. Here are photos of the end result - see what you think.

Silk habotai, painted with liquid dyes
Note the soft edges on this piece.  Because the sugar is water-soluble, using liquid dye instead of thickened dye creates a soft, blurred effect.

Silk broadcloth, painted with liquid dyes
The fabric plays an important role in the end result. The dyes do not spread much on the broadcloth, so you can see the dots where the dye was applied.

Kona Cotton, painted with thickened dye
 The consistency of the syrup also affects the end result.  This entire cloth was spread with the sugar syrup, but it was thicker in some places.  See how the dye breached the resist.

Cotton, liquid dyes, cloth by Pam Farley
The patterning from sugar syrup can be subtle.  Here it gives a soft, ghost image effect.

Below are photos of some finished pieces that were created with the sugar syrup technique.

Sliver, 24" x 18"

Sliver, detail
Flow, 48" x 38"

Flow, detail
Note the "halo" effect caused by the water separating from the syrup.The syrup used was several weeks old and was stored in a warm room, so it became runny.

Now, for more info about the book.  All of the marketing experts tell me that this is where I'm supposed to do the hard sell - to convince you that you need my new book. I'm not really very good at that, so instead I'll let you decide. It is a comprehensive guide to the use of 8 water-based resists and 7 techniques for applying them.  I'll admit that I'm biased, but I do think it's pretty good. (Read more about the book)

If you decide that the book is right for you, I'm having a special drawing for those who buy it directly from me. I'll be giving away some of the artwork I created for the book. Anyone who pre-orders it from my website or from the above link will be entered into the drawing.

I hope you enjoy the series on resists and would love to hear your comments!

Read my tips for working with resists.

Read about working with acrylic medium as a 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. Absolutely enjoy reading about your experiments with resists. I have been moving, so haven't had a chance to do much commenting! I did see your pieces at Hill Country Arts--finally. I really enjoyed them--more then what was in the other room! :) I tried to remember the names of the ones I liked best. I think Flow was one of them. I am also partial to the small piece that is on the cover of your book. If all goes well, I hope to see you in April.

    1. Thanks, Sara! I'm impressed that you've been able to keep up your blog with the move.

      You may be interested to hear that the blue/orange piece on the cover is one of the pieces that I am giving away as part of the pre-order drawing.

      Hope to see you in April, as well!

  2. I am preordering your book....just so I'll have it when it's hot off of the press! LOL I find that when I want to use one of your resist techniques, my addled brain often fails me and I have to go back through either your blog posts or your dvd to find measurements, times, etc. It would be so much easier to simply pick up your book and have all of the info right there! I'm so pleased that you've taken the time to write this book, and I look forward to adding it to my library.


    1. Thanks, Judy! And you are not alone - I can't keep all the recipes in my head, so I'm continually going back to my draft copy. I miss the days when I could remember it all!


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