Monday, February 6, 2012

Experimenting with Potato Dextrin

A few years ago I messed around a bit with potato dextrin but gave it up as it seemed a bit too fussy.  I was after crackle, and when I discovered how easily I could achieve crackle with flour paste, I went down that path.  I still love flour paste results, but recently I decided to revisit potato dextrin.  It began as a discussion with a group of surface design artists.  I was interested in experimenting with potato dextrin again to see if I could get it to hold a mark or shape on cloth.
After mixing the dextrin I screened it onto cloth that was tightly pinned to a print surface.  I used two types of cloth:  white silk/cotton Radiance, and black cotton broadcloth.  My first object was a dinner plate, the second was cardboard packing material.
Here are my two cloth samples with the plate used to create the circles.
I used the base on the underside of the plate and the rim to create the marks.

The pins were removed fairly soon after the marks were made
because the dextrin begins to draw in as it dries.

Thickened dye was "pounced" through the crackles once the dextrin was completely dry.
The dye was allowed to batch for 24 hours prior to washing.

The black cotton broadcloth was pounced with bleach gel.
The gel was left on the cloth for approximately 10 minutes, then washed out.

Here is the underside of the cotton broadcloth as the bleach begins to penetrate through the crackle.

A portion of the silk-cotton Radiance after wash-out

Here is the black cotton broadcloth after washout.  

The second experiment used this cardboard packing material to create the marks into the dextrin:

Here is the crackle pattern as the dextrin dries
Here is the result after bleach gel was applied through the resist.

I am very interested and excited about this discovery.  First, I answered my question as to whether the dextrin would "hold a mark" made into it after being spread over cloth.  Second, I am very interested to observe the effect of these marks on the crackle size and pattern over the surface.  

I believe there are a variety of influences on the crackle pattern:  the thickness of the dextrin, the effects of gravity on the cloth (hanging the cloth to dry influences the pattern of cracks), and the size and shape of embedded objects into the glaze of dextrin, which influence the surface tension of the resist.

Another exciting discovery:  potato dextrin is far easier and less messy to remove than flour paste!  This is a big deal in a studio environment, especially one that has old plumbing. 

My experiments will be ongoing, so stay tuned!


  1. You achieved great results from your experiments! Potato dextrin is so versatile - yet we often tend to limit it to one approach. Thanks for the reminder to "play" - you never know what you will discover!

  2. Aha! This is why I have a box of this stuff in my dye kitchen!! Love the results.

  3. This was a reminder to me that, sometimes, one should revisit an earlier exploration that was not satisfying. Lisa, I left the other pieces up at Art Cloth Studio. I'm anxious to see how they look after the dye process.
    Gerrie, I'll be looking forward to what you do with potato dextrin. Note: Lisa has a new book coming soon all about resists! Woo Hoo!

  4. These are really nifty textures. I haven't tried potato dextrin, yet, but you are inspiring me to do so ! Glad to see the art cloth in action. Susie


I love to hear from my readers! Please drop me a line!