sodium alginate as a water-based resist

in recent posts (the prior two i think) i experimented to find a cheap water-based resist for silk painting. you can get little tubes or bottles of proprietary resist from the dye houses, but they’re way expensive, and i’ll be damned if i’m going to be held hostage to somebody’s formula. grrr.

so i thought about it, and looked it up, and found recipes for rice starch paste and other things that i didn’t like the look of. and i cast my eye on my little unused bag of sodium alginate. i had it because all the books said to have it. to thicken the dye. but in silk painting you want watery dyes. thick dyes are for like painting dye directly on cotton fabrics. for silk you use a resist line.

of course, this is mere tradition. you can use what you like on what you like. that’s art. the question is rather of the integrity of your materials. how long will your work last is more important than what brand of paint you used.

so i’ve developed a secret recipe for sodium alginate water-based resist that you can have FOR FREE.

that’s right, knowledge should be free.  free for all to use as best they can.

using the recipe for print paste that i probably found on paula burch’s hand-dyeing website, or mostly using the recipe, because i am constitutionally barred from following  recipes exactly, here’s a go at remembering how i did it

i only made up half a batch at a time, too, not to waste any.

1 tsp sodium alginate

generous splash of rubbing alcohol (1 tsp)

put alginate into a container with smooth sides so that you can mix thoroughly in it.  moisten with alcohol.  set aside.

1/4c hot water

1/2 teaspoon urea

pinch calgon

dissolve urea and calgon in hot water, then add to alginate/alcohol mix and stir until well blended. might as well make it in a blender, except in these amounts it would be ridiculous.

basically, this secret recipe follows this print paste recipe except double or fourple the amount of alginate, then add alcohol and calgon for various reasons et voila.

it thins with water to go on with a brush – as noflow or antifusant.

it goes into a little squeeze bottle with a tip and comes out in thin lines that resist the spread of dye.

and i save big time by making my own.

one bottle of brand name water-based resist $8.75 for 3.5 oz

one bottle of antifusant $5.48 for 8 oz

one pound of sodium alginate $20. guess how many 3.5 oz bottles you can make up with a pound of alginate measured out a teaspoon at a time.

i’m keeping some in the fridge because i forgot about it, but one of these days real soon now i’ll take it out and see if it’s still good, or has it gone runny and gloppy. it’s got alcohol in it, so maybe it’ll last awhile.

even the $9 for 3.5 oz goes bad after awhile.

so i’m crowing.

now, i’m certain i’ve just reinvented the wheel. dyers have undoubtedly known about this for donkeys’ years.

but it’s news to me.

i just hate paying for the convenience of someone making it up for me. i hate paying the 10,000% profit that somebody is making just because i don’t know how to do it myself.

that’s another kind of slavery. so here’s a way to get around buying one more little thing you need to make art.

rant – it’s all part of a conspiracy to hobble the artist. artists traditionally made it all themselves, from powdering the rocks to building the stretchers. and more and more, art stores are marketing to artists as if art is just a hobby, as if convenience was the thing, as if we were too damned busy making a living so we could afford to go to an art supply store and plunk down a couple of hundred dollars for a bunch of things we have no idea how to make.

i prefer to make them. and the knowledge i’ve gained enables me to make art out of anything. cue evil laugh.