Celebrate the upcoming holiday and the new season with this eye-catching batik DIY
There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with making something with your own two hands. Besides the obvious fact that, when you make something yourself you’re granted complete control, that element of creation can infuse even the simplest objects with meaning, creating an indelible connection between you and your handmade belongings. Nowhere is that connection stronger than in the home. As the first day of spring approaches, I’ve been craving a bit of change within my space to match the shift taking place outside my windows. The transition is simple, but one that makes everything feel that much more fresh when my windows are open and the sun streams in. Some new plants, lighter and brighter fabrics, bunches of flowers, and a bright cloth for my table to greet me at the start of each day. I’ve been interested in batik since childhood, when I spent excessive amounts of time marveling over the mysterious batik tools that belonged to my mother, but never got around to trying out the technique myself until recently, so I knew with my latest project it was time.
Batik is the art of wax resist dyeing, where wax is applied to fabric, which is then dyed and the wax removed to reveal intricate patterns. With batik-specific tools, the patterns can become extremely fine and interwoven, but the technique can be replicated in simpler terms using just a paintbrush. While the process is relatively straightforward, it does take time, making batik the perfect project for a rainy spring afternoon. Today I’m sharing how to create a simple springtime tablecloth using the unique process of batik, learn how below:
DIY Batik Cloth
Beeswax or paraffin wax
Old double boiler (or use the tomato-can-in-a-pot trick)
Sheet of plastic or large piece of cardboard
Iron (tip: cover the heated surface of the iron with tinfoil to protect it before using)
Before you head to the fabric store, measure your table or other surface you’re covering to know how much canvas to purchase. Once you have fabric in hand, wash it with detergent and hot water to remove any chemical sizing and shrink it down. Once dry, trim it to your desired size and use the pencil to lightly draw out your design on the fabric.
On low heat, carefully use the double boiler (or a large can/jar nested in a small pot filled 1/4 of the way with water) to melt the wax. Be sure to keep the temperature at about low to avoid the flash point. Never leave melting wax unattended.
Place the sheet of plastic or a large piece of cardboard on top of your work surface and lay the fabric over top, drawing side up. I recommend setting up your work space close to the stove or boiler, to keep the wax consistently hot. Once the wax is completely melted, dip your paintbrush into the wax and paint the wax carefully over your drawn design, being sure the wax sinks into the material. Allow the wax to harden completely. This takes a bit of practice, so you may want to use a scrap of fabric to test your technique on before starting in on your big project.
While the wax hardens, slip on your gloves and mix the dye, following the instructions on the packet, in the plastic bucket or a stainless steel sink. Once the dye is thoroughly dissolved, allow the water to cool a bit and submerge the fabric. The longer the fabric sits in the dye, the darker and more saturated the color will be.
Once it’s soaked for as long as you like (I soaked mine for about 30 minutes), remove the fabric from the dye and rinse several times with lukewarm water (pro tip: don’t rinse your fabric in a white tub, as it will stain. A stainless steel sink or the emptied bucket is best). Hang the fabric and allow to dry completely.
Once the fabric is dry, it’s time to remove the wax! Lay down a thick layer of paper towels and set the fabric on top of them (you want enough paper towels to cover the design), then place more paper towels on top of the fabric, so it’s sandwiched between the towels. If you’re using an iron you care about, be sure to cover the heated plate with tinfoil to protect it. Then, once the iron is heated, iron over the paper towel-covered fabric.
As you iron over the fabric, the towels will absorb the melted wax, leaving behind your design. Replace the paper towels as needed until all of the wax is dissolved.
Once the wax is removed, your tablecloth is ready to go!
This technique works well on most natural fiber fabrics. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, try using batik to make pillow cases, wall hangings, and to add designs to basic clothing.
+ What techniques are you curious to learn? Please share!