Batik Progress

Batik is harder than it looks. It’s becoming clear to me that it requires a bit of practice for a good result. One issue with the trousers that I am making is that the fabric is too thick. It is an amazingly thick silk twill. I thought that, because it’s silk, that it would suck the wax up, but mostly the wax sat on top of the fabric when I was applying it. I ironed the wax to get it to soak in, with limited success.

Before applying the wax, I sewed the pockets and side seams. I wanted the motifs to cross the side seams.

Another issue is that I was a bit of a wimp about heating the wax. When the wax started getting too hot (as evidenced by alarming popping noises coming from the can), I blew out the candle underneath that I was using to heat it. It seems like the wax absorbed better when it was hotter, though. I may try this again when the weather is warmer, and I can work outside.

Here are some photos of my progress:

project with wax applied, before dyeing.


the result so far


This is one of the better motifs


This shows that part that's the closest to what I had in mind

Here’s my inspiration photo:

my inspiration photo



  1. Posted January 21, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink | Reply

    I haven’t done batik in years, but the wax does basically sit on the surface. Ironing it takes out the wax, not the objective before dyeing it. I had a friend in college who is a fiber artist and she did a lot of batik while we were in school and she used a hot plate to heat up the wax. You can control the heat better. What are you using to apply the wax?

    • Posted January 21, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink | Reply

      Ironing between sheets of paper takes out the wax, because the wax is absorbed by the paper. I ironed between sheets of foil so the wax would stay on the fabric. I think it did help, but if the batik had been absorbed properly in the first place, it would not have been necessary.

      You can buy a hot plate to keep the wax at the proper temp, but I really hate having lots of craft paraphnelia around the house, so I am reluctant to buy one.

      I used a batiking tool to apply the wax.

      The wax should not sit on the surface of the fabric. It needs to soak in and be visible from the wrong side. I say this for 2 reasons. One is that the Dharma Trading video that I watched says so, and they are normally very knowledgeable about their products. The other is that it makes intuitive sense. If the wax sits on the surface and you plunge it into a dye bath, there would be nothing stopping the dye from soaking in from the wrong side.

  2. Shams
    Posted January 21, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink | Reply

    You are so brave! The fondue warmer was very clever and I hear you on wanting to avoid a lot of special purpose gadgets. What if you put the fondue warmer in a cookie tray, well away from the wall? It puts me in in mind of a similar project I did once, where I put a burning candle into the bathtub. (I can’t remember now just what I was doing, but there’s no way I would have space to batik in my bathroom. πŸ™‚ )

    I hope you can continue your experiments. It’s very interesting. πŸ™‚

    • Posted January 21, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink | Reply

      I thought about moving it away from the wall, but having it in the middle of the table would greatly increase the likelihood that I would knock it over. Decisions.

  3. Posted January 21, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink | Reply

    Claudine this is amazing! I would never attempt something like this, although following all your adventures on this blog provides a LOT of inspiration. I love the weave of the twill and the colour you used. Too bad about the temperature of the wax, though I am wowed by what you’re doing! The inspiration photo is a great idea.

  4. Posted January 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I used to do batik wayyy back in the late ’60’s/early ’70’s. The wax definitely needs to be hot enough to penetrate the fabric properly. When it starts to smoke is when you’re really in trouble! The popping sound may have just been a little bit of moisture in the pot. That’s not good as it means the hot wax could spatter and burn you. As you’ve found out it’s all a big learning curve. But the effects can be wonderful.

    I’ve since been playing with easier resists such as school glue gel (nice lines), flour and water paste (great crackle effects), instant mashed potatoes etc. They are safer to use and much easier to get out of the fabric afterwards being water soluble. The drawback with these “kitchen resists” is that they don’t hold up to immersion dyeing. I use foam brushes to paint on the dye or diluted fabric paints instead. You can blend two or more colours over the piece rather than have it all one colour. I especially like where they overlap making it look much more complex than you might expect.

    • Posted January 22, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for this comment. It is very informative.

  5. Posted January 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Claudine I do like what you’ve done, even if it isn’t exactly what you had in mind. I hear you on the gadets. This is a centuries old technique that was routinely accomplished with minimal technology. Why should we have to have a bunch of gadget to get the same results?

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  1. By Completed Batik Trousers « Adventures in Couture on January 27, 2012 at 9:10 am

    […] my first try at batik. I’m still not sure if I like the way the batik design turned out. See this post and read the comments for a little info on my batiking process. I may dye over it when the wax […]

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