Batik Preparation

Batik Preparation
Learn batik preparation and batik dyeing of calico fabric to create colorful calico fabric and clothing like the Global Mamas of Ghana!

>> Batik Preparation Video: Overview

Batik Preparation: Batik Equipment & Batik Supplies
Calico Fabric: Start with a piece of clothing or calico fabric (100% white cotton cloth). Use natural materials like silk, linen or cotton as most synthetic fibers will not hold the fabric dye. Wash new fabrics to remove any chemical finishes.

Batik Wax: Use premixed batik wax or a mix of paraffin wax and beeswax. The ideal mixture for batik preparation is 30 percent beeswax and 70 percent paraffin, creating the perfect batik wax mixture. Beeswax adheres well to fabric but does not crack, while paraffin does not adhere but cracks easily. Adjusting the mix will achieve different crackled results.

Dye: For batik dyeing, use a cold water fabric dye like Rit to prevent the batik wax from melting. More adventurous or experienced batikers can use a fast-acting fabric dye or vat dye for batik dyeing. Though more complicated to handle, they take more quickly and produce better results.

Pot cauldron for de-waxing

Pots: Use a double boiler, chafing dish or electric skillet to melt the batik wax and keep it hot. Batik wax is extremely flammable and should not be heated directly on a stove. You can insulate a regular pot in an inch of water in a larger pot. To remove the batik wax, you will also need a large pot or cauldron in which your calico fabric will easily fit.

Paintbrushes: Used to apply the wax and fabric dye.

Foam: blocks are carved to create wax stamps. Use a thick and absorbent foam, at least five inches thick.

Cutting Blade: Use either a razor blade or Exacto knife to cut the batik wax stamp.

Pencil: Use a charcoal or heavy pencil to sketch your batik designs.

Frame/Work Surface: Use an old picture frame or cookie sheet to stretch the calico fabric taut while working. If stamping, lay the calico fabric down flat on a large working surface, like a piece of vinyl. You may coat the surface with a layer of wax to ensure the batik cloth will not stick.

Wax pencil & work surface

Batik Preparation: Batik Design Creation
Freehand Design: If drawing hot wax on the calico fabric freehand, it is a good idea to sketch your batik design on the fabric first with a pencil.

Foam Stamp: On a piece of dense foam, sketch a design for your batik stamp. Use a razor blade or Exacto knife to cut around the edges of your batik design. The batik stamp will be a mirrored image, so any letters must be written out backwards.

>> Batik Preparation Video: Cutting a Batik Stamp

Carving a foam stamp

Batik Preparation: Batik Wax
Prepare the Batik Wax: Heat the batik wax to between 220 and 240 degrees F, ideally using a portable burner next to your workspace. If you have no burner, work next to the stove to prevent dripping. Batik wax must not smoke or heat to above 240 degrees F. If the batik wax ignites, use baking soda - NOT water - to douse the flames. Once the batik wax begins to bubble gently, test a small amount on a scrap piece of cloth. It must penetrate both sides of the cloth and leave the fabric looking wet. If the batik wax looks opaque or sits on top, it is not hot enough; if it spreads wide it is too hot.

Stretch the Calico Fabric: Stretch your calico fabric out using pins or clips, or lay it out flat on your work surface.

>> Continue to Batik Instructions

Dipping stamp into hot wax