Fabric Designs with Batik Wax

Thursday, 10 May 2012, 8:00 | Author : Kricket
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“Batik” is a fabric dying technique that allows you to create two-tone patterns on fabric using wax.  How this works is when the specialized wax is painted on a natural-fiber fabric, it acts as a dye-barrier and prevents penetration into the fabric.  What makes batik wax special is it’s mixture of beeswax, which adheres well to fabric, and paraffin wax, which is brittle.   If you have the time and energy, I would recommend this method to add a personalized, hand-made touch to your cosplay costumes.  Yet, there are definite limitations to this method.  If you are trying to paint a large area of fabric, achieve crisp lines, or add multiple color palettes then this process might not be for you; instead order custom-printed fabric at spoonflower.com.

For the purposes of experimentation, I decided to try three different types of waxes: Pure Beeswax, Batik Wax, and an Easter Egg crayon; and three application methods: tjantings, paintbrush, and crayon.

.  WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Wax + Applicator
  • Natural fabric
  • Double Boiler
  • Cold Water Dye
   You will need to melt the wax on low heat in a double boiler. The wax will harden quickly when taken off the stove, so it will be best if you set up a candle-heated fondue pot at your work station to keep the wax pliable.
   IF USING A CRAYON:Although this is the easiest way to control the wax, it does not penetrate the fabric deep enough to prevent dye saturation.
   IF USING A PAINTBRUSH:Keep the wax warm at your work station, otherwise the wax will build up and make it difficult to paint fine lines.
   IF USING A TJANTING: (This device is a little tricky to use)

  1. Keep the metal heated or the wax will clog
  2. Make sure the melting pot has a fine pouring spout
  3. Have your design pre-sketched because you can’t stop the wax once it’s dripping!
   Before you begin dying, check to see that the wax is completely saturating the fabric and that the lines are crisp.  If this is not the case, you should suspend your fabric within a quilting frame or picture frame.
   Place the fabric in a cold-water dye-bath (such as Dylon).  If you make the mistake of using warm water, the wax will melt prematurely.  Once it reaches the desired color, rinse the fabric until the water runs clear and let dry.
   To extract the wax, place the dried fabric in-between layers of paper and iron on a low temperature.

And that’s it!  Please keep in mind that we included multiple variables in this experiment to demonstrate alternative methods for applying batik wax.  Obviously, the technique you use will depend on your desired result, but if you asked me which one offered the most control I would recommend using the paintbrush.

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