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by John Marshall

WASHfabric BR.jpg

Well now, you’ve been patient and allowed your fabric plenty of time to cure and at long last it is time to wash out your paste – congratulations for making it this far!


▶︎Traditionally in Japan, the fabrics at this stage were taken to the river to be washed. With natural dyes and rice-paste resist patterning, there is no worry about pollution. This is a fun way to wash out your projects, especially when working with children.


▶︎For most studio purposes, you’ll need a large vessel filled with water. A bathtub or horse trough will work quite well. In a pinch, a top-loading washing machine will also work. Make sure that the container is large enough to allow plenty of room for your fabric to float freely without crowding.


▶︎Ease the cured fabric into the water and allow it to soak for twenty to thirty minutes. You will find that most of your paste will dissolve away.


▶︎Swish the fabric gently under water and allow it to sit for another two to three minutes. At this stage you will probably find the water discolored. However, if you allow the water to sit for a bit, all of the discoloration should settle out to the bottom. This is the excess dye, such as that sitting on top of your paste, that has washed out of the fabric and is non-watersoluble.  If you have color bleeding out of the fabric and staining the wash water, then something went wrong during the dyeing process – no color should bleed out.


▶︎Pull the paste-free fabric from the water and place it into a top-loading washing machine, set to the spin cycle, to wring out the excess water. While this is happening, refill your wash basin with fresh water. Rinse the damp cloth to remove any last vestiges of paste. In my work I have found rinsing once to be plenty if all has gone well.


▶︎Spin out the excess water again. You are now ready to hang your fabric to dry, or, if sufficiently cured, you may toss it into the dryer. It's a good idea to pull it out before it is completely dry – hang for the last little bit of moister to evaporate.


▶︎Once dry, I recommend one last coat of soymilk to give the fabric that new look.


Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

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