How to Make a Simple Paste Resist to Create Nature Inspired Designs on Fabric

Process of katazome paste resist. Shows stencil, finished dyed design and pasted fabric.
Watercolour paper stencil, finished indigo dyed design and pasted fabric prior to dyeing.

After meeting with Rob Jones of Romor Designs last year who showed me how to make simple paste resist I have been working and experimenting with paste resist.

I made some stencils and transferred paste through them on to fabric to make a couple of straightforward designs. I am eager to try more experiments, it is a very pleasing process. And a lot faster than shibori stitch resist!

Let Me Tell You About My Experiments With Paste Resist and Indigo

1. The Paste

Traditionally one uses a special Japanese rice flour and bran which I cannot obtain here in the UK. I could buy it at an outrageous cost from the USA but I need to find a recipe from affordable ingredients I can obtain here. It also makes it more accessible to others.

paste mix calx and glycerine added
The paste has been beaten and calx and glycerin added.

I followed the instructions on John Marshall’s website here. Using glutinous Thai rice flour instead of the mochiko and oat flour instead of komon nuka in his recipe in a proportion of 3 to 2. I bought the calx and glycerine too, all easily available from a builder’s supplies and a chemist shop (drugstore) respectively. I found a steamer in a charity shop (Goodwill).

plug in steamer for making paste

2. The Stencil

The special Japanese paper for stencils is very expensive too and I can’t obtain it here so again experimented by using watercolour paper and varnishing with a matte paper varnish like Liquitex. I used 3 coats allowing to dry between each. Again further experiments to be made to avoid the use of acrylics. I used an ordinary craft knife to cut my designs.

Watercolour paper stencils

3. The Results

My simple paste resist was a bit sticky but it worked well enough to make a few prints.

I played with a simple flower design and a bunch of grasses to see how it would all work out. Above shows the paste applied to the fabric and then left to dry for a few hours before dipping in indigo.

My simple paste resist was not entirely successful, the mix was a bit wet and the paste fermented after only a week but I know what mix I will try next, it needs to be a little dryer. I will update you when I have played further and found a better mix of ingredients.

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