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The mechanical method of partial dyeing is essentially aimed at physically blocking, in some cases, only impeding or reducing, the dye's access to the targeted parts of the fabric, whereas the chemical (aka reactive) method is to use a chemical agent to temporarily render an insoluble dyeing agent soluble, so that it may be absorbed into the fibers of the targeted parts of the fabric, where, once dried (i.e., oxidized), the absorbed dye in this part of the fabric will return to its insoluble state, so that when one later dyes the entire piece of fabric in a vat containing a different colored dye, the insoluble dye prevents the second (soluble) dye from being absorbed into the fibers in those parts of the fabric where the insoluble dye has been absorbed.
Wax printing, alternatively batik printing, is a mechanical dye-blocking method whereby hot (melted) wax is applied, often in the form of a geometric pattern or an artistic representation (anything from a flower to a human face), to a chosen part the fabric, then when the wax has dried sufficiently, the fabric is dyed in a cold-water vat of soluble dye. When the dyeing process is finished and the fabric has been allowed to dry completely, the fabric is then washed in hot water, which dissolves the wax, and the finished product is a piece of fabric with patterns, designs, images, etc., in a contrasting color to the dyed, or background, color.
One can of course achieve very exact – and very consistent – results by the calico method, since a pre-designed surface can be worked to perfection, as it were, and where nothing is left to the chance movement of the hand, as in the free-hand, wax printing method.