BATIK; Know how to do this ancient and exciting art form.

Batik is an ancient art form. I am not going to go into the history of this art as Google can tell you all you need to know, instead I am going to show you some of my batiks and tell you how to create a simple batik. If you are the creative type you may want to try this exciting and unique process.


The best fabric to use is good quality, white cotton or silk.  I experimented with a number of fabrics and found good old cotton works best.  Even old white sheets are great to use as long as they are not to thin from use. Thick fabrics are not good idea as you want the wax to penetrate.


I use Dylon cold water powder dyes.  The colours are strong, durable, and easy to mix.  The manufacturer does give instructions on how to mix and set the dyes.


A 60/40 mixture of beeswax and paraffin.  Beeswax is soft and pliable and does not crack easily.


1.Wash your fabric to remove factory chemicals etc.  This will soften your fabric. Hang out to dry and iron any creases out.  Attach the fabric to a suitable wooden frame and use drawing pins to put it in place.

2.Draw your image using a soft pencil. The pencil will fade in the process so draw dark lines, which will still be discernible after the washing and waxing process.

3.Decide on your colours and mix your first colour following the manufacturer’s instructions.

4.Make sure you have lots of rags for accidents. Heat the wax up on a stove.  It will start to smoke once it heats up.  Do not allow the wax to boil. Once the wax is very hot, control the temperature.  Hot wax is easier to apply quickly and will soak right through the fabric. Work safely with the hot wax and in a well ventilated area. Burns are possible and painful, so be careful!  I do not recommend this for children.

5.Apply the wax with a brush or canting tool to the areas that you do not want to be dyed, and let the wax cool completely. (Use cheap brushes as the wax can singe the brushes).

6.Stir the fabric in the prepared dyed water for a least ten minutes and soak for an hour. I prefer to leave the fabric in longer for a brighter result. If you are using black, let the fabric soak for 3 hours before removing.  Once the soaking time is complete, wash and rinse the fabric gently until the dye is removed and hang up to dry.

7. Once dry, the wax can be removed* or kept on for the next colour dying.  Depending on your idea and colours, this will be up to you.  If you want to keep the first colour pure, leave the wax on.

8.Now you apply the next colour in the same way using the same process all over again.   It can be a long process if you use several colours because of the soaking and drying time.

9.*To remove the wax, use newspaper and brown paper. Put your fabric in-between the sheets of brown paper and place this on an ironing board which is protected with an old towel and layers of newspaper. Use a hot iron to melt the wax off the fabric.

10.Sit back and enjoy your work!

One of the most interesting characteristics of batik is the patterning of the wax as it cracks in the process.  Colour runs into the cracks and creates great textures.

A canting tool is most helpful for batik.  Google some of the demos on the internet which teach the use of this tool.  I did not use a canting tool in any of the above batiks.

If the edges on your batik are not distinct enough use a thin permanent marker to edge, and you can even highlight areas with acrylic paint. If you project fails, all is not lost, it can be recycled with a new idea.

Copyright © Caroline Street. Art, Poetry and Photography. All rights reserved.

6 thoughts on “BATIK; Know how to do this ancient and exciting art form.

  1. Blue, perhaps a bit of red in and if the design requires other colours then that too. Don’t want to prescribe too much, but am tired of African designs. The length 1.80m; width 1.30. It will be turned into curtains and I’m sure the measurement allows for the seams. Will you quote me first please?


    1. Sorry Petru, I do not do designs for curtains etc. Just pictures (as you see in my post) in much smaller sizes than you require. I am not set up to do really large work in batik, it would be too expensive as well. Maybe you could find a website that produces large batik for home decor. Good luck and thank you for enquiring.

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