Fabric Decoration: Art Tarble Arts Center 2013

What is batik and how to make a batik? Jefferson Elementary School sixth graders from Mrs. Hess art class participate in the Batik AIR workshops.

The word BATIK originates from the Javanese verb AMBATIK, which derives from the word “tik” meaning to mark with dots. BATIK is a resist method of patterning cloth. The principle of all resist techniques is that a “resist” substance, such as wax or starch paste, is applied to the surface of the cloth to prevent the dye from penetrating to those areas when the fabric is placed in the dye bath.

Some theories suggest that batik originated in China between 474BC and 221BC and that the art then spread eastward to Japan. Today, batik is practiced in many parts of the world including India, Africa, South-East Asia and Europe.

How to make batik?  Using a thick marker pen, draw your design to the exact proportions on rough paper, then secure your drawing to a flat surface or table with masking tape.

Next, wash out any finish from your chosen fabric; allow it to dry then iron it flat. Tape the fabric over your paper design and, using a charcoal pencil; carefully trace the design onto the cloth. Stretch the fabric over a batik frame and secure it with drawing pins or silk pins.

2. Place the wax mixture in a double boiler and heat to a constant temperature of 800C (1700F) over an electric ring. Top up the lower pan with water at regular intervals.

3. Using a paintbrush, apply a generous coat of wax to the white back ground area of the design, making sure that you leave the chicken pattern and borders unwaxed. Hold a piece of tissue in your spare hand to catch any drips from the paintbrush. Leave the waxed fabric to cool.
4. Next, start making up the yellow dyebath. If you plan to use more than one colour, make sure that you start with the lightest colour and then progress to the darker colours. For example, go from yellow to red to green to indigo. Remove the fabric from the frame and wearing rubber gloves, immerse it in the dyebath for at least 30 minutes (refer to the manufacturer’s instructions).

5. Remove the cloth from the dyebath and leave to dry before re-stretching it over the frame. Next, using a fine-nibbed tjanting, apply wax over the areas that you to remain yellow, for example, the feet and the beaks. Leave the wax to dry, then immerse the cloth in the red dyebath. Continue waxing and dyeing in this manner until you reach the final dyeing stage. When you have given the fabric its last coat of wax, screw it into a tight ball in order to crackle the wax, then submerge it in the indigo dyebath.

6. Once you have achieved your desired effect, remove the wax by dipping the cloth in boiling water and ironing it between sheets of paper.

what is Tie-dye?

Often referred to as plangi, tie-dyeing is a method of decorating cloth by isolating areas so that they resist the dye. Instead of coating sections of the fabric with a “resist” substance, such as wax, in order to isolate them, areas are bound with thread so that when the fabric is immersed in the dyebath the tightness of the yarn acts as a barrier to the dye and prevents it from penetrating to the tied areas. Other methods of tie-dyeing include folding, sewing or binding small objects such as seeds, pebbles or dried peas into the cloth.


Tie-dyeing is practiced in many countries of the world, although the best examples can be found in India, Africa and Japan. The reason why the art of dyeing, and especially tie-dyeing, originated in countries with hot climates is because those are the areas where the best dye-plants can be found. For example, in Africa there is an abundance of wild plants which contain the colouring indigo, the traditional hue used in West African tie-tye. Another reason why dyeing is a native craft in hot regions is because the cloth can be easily laid out to dry in the sun once dyeing is complete

Equipment and materials
thick marker pen
Scrap paper
Masking tape
Cotton fabric
Batik stretcher
Three-pronged silk pins or
Drawing pins
Tjantings in various sizes
Cold-water or reactive dyes
Batik wax
Charcoal pencil
Shallow dyebath
Rubber gloves
Electric ring
Double boiler

Popular Posts