Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Working with Resists - Tip #3

#3 - Break the Rules

Other than safety guidelines, there are few imperatives when working with resists. When someone says "you can't do that", or "that will never work", that indicates an  innovation in the making. I'll admit that I have told workshop participants that something wouldn't work, only to have my recommendations ignored.  And on many occasions the end results were intriguing.  

Those experiences led me to try things with resists that don't fit with conventional wisdom.  Immersing cloth with a flour paste resist is a good example.  Most people use flour paste for the crackle effect.  If you immerse it, the dye will penetrate the flour and you won't get that crackle, right?  Well, I decided to try it for myself just to see what happens. (Photos below)  It certainly looks different than hand painted flour paste, but I really like the effect. 

Now I'm an advocate for trying different things.  Even if I haven't had success with a technique, that doesn't mean someone else won't approach it differently and achieve a good result. Remain open to using the resists in an unconventional manner.  You never know what you will discover!

Flour paste, hand painted with thickened dye
Flour paste, immersed in dye
The effect with immersion is much more subtle, but very beautiful.

Cornstarch is another good example.  It forms a very smooth paste and is great for screenprinting and direct applications. It "doesn't work" for the crackle effect, because it forms a flexible coating that doesn't crack.  

Freshly made cornstarch

Now look at week-old cornstarch.  After sitting a few days, the consistency becomes jelly-like and is difficult to reconstitute into a smooth paste.  The chunky paste was applied to the entire cloth below, and it did crack when dry, creating a unique pattern. 

Week-old cornstarch

The two pieces of cloth below were created with oatmeal resist.  I love it for its distinctive crackle effect. I decided to try painting it while still damp, knowing that I wouldn't get a crackle, but interested to see the result.

Oatmeal, hand painted once dry

Painted while damp, the result is a soft, marbled effect.

Oatmeal, painted while damp

Read previous tips

Read the next tip

Read about sugar syrup resist

Read about acrylic medium resist

Read about flour paste resist

Read about oatmeal resist

Read about potato dextrin resist

Read about soy wax resist


  1. I want to try each of them! You are so generous to share.

    1. Now that you have your studio set up, you can try them all! Let me know how it goes.


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