Batik is a method of patterning fabric or paper using melted wax. This creates a barrier, or resist, to prevent dye from colouring the waxed areas.
Wax Melting Pot
The safest and easiest way to melt the wax is with an electric wax melting pot. The temperature in this wax pot can be thermostatically controlled to keep the wax at melting point so that it does not burn. There are recesses around the rim to rest tools when they are not in use.
Applying the Wax
The melted wax can be applied using a stamp, brush or with a tjanting. A tjanting consists of handle with a bowl at the end of it for scooping up the melted wax. The wax flows through a small spout connected to the bowl. Leaving the tjanting in the wax pot stops the wax from cooling down and blocking the spout.
It is best to use cold water dyes, such as Procion MX dyes, for Batik work as this will prevent the wax from melting. The fabric is first treated with a solution of soda ash (approx. 5g of soda ash to 1 litre of warm water) and allowed to dry.
Roz Plant used a tjanting to apply the wax for this design of a cat. The colours of the dyes remain within the wax outline but where the yellow dye has leaked beyond the wax outline it has combined with the blue coloured area and turned green. It is necessary to check that the wax has fully absorbed through to the back of the fabric and that the outline is unbroken. This is to ensure that the colours remain within the outline. Often, artists allow this seapage to occur as part of the design.
Batik on Paper
Diana Fenney’s paintings were created using Procion MX and melted candle wax on Lokta paper and Mulberry paper. The candle wax was used to block out the areas where Diana wanted highlights such as on the blossom in these trees. Diana has built the painting up using a wash from Procion MX dyes.
The very simple Batik below can be easily reproduced using cotton fabric suspended on a stretcher frame. A series of heart shapes were painted onto the fabric with melted wax and allowed to dry. The fabric was then painting over with Deka Silk paint. When the paint had dried, a further series of heart shapes were painted in wax before painting over the whole design a second time. The fluid Deka Silk paints intensify in colour with subsequent applications.