Batik is a "wax resist" method of making colourful designs on fabric. According to The Batik Guild, it is an ancient traditional process for decorating fabric that has been used in Java, Indonesia for centuries. Hot wax is applied to fabric with a brush or special tool, and the fabric is then dyed. This craft can be very rewarding for older children, who will need to be carefully supervised, but is not suitable for young children as the hot wax can be dangerous.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Wax candles
- Metal can
- 100 per cent cotton white cloth
- Cold fabric dye
- Paper towel
- Strong detergent
Melt the wax in a tin can set in a saucepan of water. Heat the pan on a stove. Don't overheat the wax. It should be melted but not boiling.
Plan your design and draw it lightly on to your fabric with pencil if you wish. Cover the areas you wish to keep white with wax. Apply the wax with a brush or use a traditional batik tool called a "tjanting" to draw on your design.
Use a tjanting by filling the bowl with hot wax and tipping it forward to start the wax flow through the funnel. Control the wax flow by tipping your hand back and forward.
Place your fabric in cold fabric dye. If you are going to have more than one colour in your design use the lightest colour first. For example, use yellow, then pink, then orange. The unwaxed areas will change colour with each dyeing, and the fabric colour will mix with the colour of the dye. For example, if you place orange fabric in green dye it will turn brown, not green.
Allow the cloth to dry after dyeing it, if you are using more than one colour. Apply more hot wax to the areas you want to keep that colour. Then place it in the next colour of dye. Repeat the process until you have used all your colours.
Allow the fabric to dry completely after the final dye bath. Remove the wax by ironing it between two pads of paper towel and newspaper. Some wax residue may remain, making the fabric slightly stiff. If you wish to remove all the wax, soak the fabric in strong detergent.
Tips and warnings
- Cover your work surface with newspaper, as this craft can be very messy.
- Use plain white wax candles, as coloured ones will stain the fabric.
- The wax will crack and colours will bleed into each other along the cracks as you work. This is a normal part of the process and helps create the batik effect.
- Hot wax can be very dangerous. This activity must be supervised by an adult and is not suitable for young children.
- Overheated wax can catch fire.
- Wear gloves while mixing and working with dyes, as they can stain your hands.
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