How to suggest space on a piece of cloth? I began to look at several issues, posed by both the the transparency and liquidity of the dye medium; and also of wax to control the process. To solve these problems through dye itself became, to me, a fascinating game. I began to work within the constraints of the medium and to celebrate the qualities of dye – its liquidity and transparency; its purity of colour; its ability to leave the surface of the cloth unchanged. I made several panels and hangings around this idea, and in sequences such as ‘Chaos’ and ‘Black Flame’, I began to deconstruct the process to see how far I could go, while ‘Light shapes’ explored an ordered space.


Spatial tension in a dyed image.

In the panel, above, thrusting shapes, diagonals and directional lines create different interlocking rhythms which seem to flow from left to right across the surface. The pattern seems to trap the colours on one plane. There is little sense of receding space.

Ordered Space
There are two very distinct working methods of using wax resist techniques to create a multi-layered image. Each results in astonishingly different spatial characteristics.

In method 1, (addition method), alternate layers of wax and thin washes of dye are added one over the other, and accumulate until the piece is complete.



In method.  2, the wax and dye are washed out after each layer is added, then the cloth is dried and the process is repeated.

overlay-3Ambiguous Space

The technique of overlaying dye to create an image of highly saturated colour involved days of waxing, dyeing, curing, drying. The colour could be overlaid several times, quite randomly, yet still retain its clarity and brightness. However, the images were restless and the sense of space unsettling.


This sample illustrates the idea of an imaginary space – a white void – and how marks and shapes can appear to be constantly moving within the void. The eye is directed from one sharp shape to another, and is taken beyond the surface into the void.
Four layers of waxing/dyeing with washing off of wax in between, were needed to make the coloured shapes overlap.
In exploring the spatial possibilities, using contrasts of tone and colour, I was unprepared for the dynamic restless energy which resulted.