Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Who Loves Batiks?

I just got in a shipment of beautiful batiks from Hoffman Fabrics and thought I would share a little about batiks.

How Batiks are Made   (Wikipedia)

Melted wax is applied to cloth before being dipped in dye. It is common  to use a mixture of beeswax and paraffin wax. The beeswax will hold to the fabric and the paraffin wax will allow cracking, which is a characteristic of batik. Wherever the wax has seeped through the fabric, the dye will not penetrate. Sometimes several colours are used, with a series of dyeing, drying and waxing steps.

Thin wax lines are made with a canting, a wooden handled tool with a tiny metal cup with a tiny spout, out of which the wax seeps.

Blue Batik Rail Fence by Bungalow Quilts

After the last dyeing, the fabric is hung up to dry. Then it is dipped in a solvent to dissolve the wax, or ironed between paper towels or newspapers to absorb the wax and reveal the deep rich colors and the fine crinkle lines that give batik its character. This traditional method of batik making is called batik tulis.

For batik prada, gold leaf was used in the Yogjakarta and Surakarta area.  It was applied to the fabric using a handmade glue consisting of egg white or linseed oil and yellow earth. The gold would remain on the cloth even after it had been washed. The gold could follow the design of the cloth or could take on its own design. Older batiks could be given a new look by applying gold to them.

Round and Round Batiks by Erika Lynne Designs

The application of wax with a canting is done with great care and therefore is very time-consuming. As the population increased and commercial demand rose, time-saving methods evolved. Other methods of applying the wax to the fabric include pouring the liquid wax, painting the wax with a brush, and putting hot wax onto pre-carved wooden or copper block and stamping  the fabric.

The invention of the copper  block revolutionized batik production. By block printing the wax onto the fabric, it became possible to mass-produce designs and intricate patterns much faster than one could possibly do by using a canting.

Note: "Batik Print" is the common name given to fabric which incorporates batik pattern without actually using the wax resist dyeing technique.

Here are a few tutorials on how to make your own batik fabric:


Sven Gallery

All About Hand Dying


  1. Beautiful batiks! I just love working with them.

  2. It is amazing that the batiks don't cost more than they do with all of that specialized work on them.

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. I can't answer you because you don't have your email enabled (Edit profile, check mark in front of Show My Email and SAVE).