September 15, 2010

A slow waxing

Wax and natural dye is a very slow process. Its not for everybody.

I think it is really important to go slow with this blog.

To give you time to think about your eco batik, and time to consider finding the things that you need from op shops.

Also the time to consider your best dye plants for the batik purpose.

It is important to collect the right tools, and gather the pots that you can dedicate to wax, as it is not easy to wash out of your good dye pots.

Some of you may want to just rush in and learn by error, and this is OK too. Everybody has their own way of learning. And sharing. And doing.

The main thing is that this blog is a good recourse, and it will eventually have lots of links to other eco batik artists, and suppliers. And it will be useful to us all.

If you have anything you would like to share on this blog, or would like to show us your eco batik work. Please let me know and we will link you to this resource.

September 13, 2010

applying wax with the canting tool

In batik work the pure bees wax is often mixed with paraffin wax and arabic gum to give it a particular desired consistency to the hot wax.

The first time I made batik I did mix my bees wax with an old paraffin candle that I had here, and pulled some gum off an old wattle tree and mixed that in too.

Then I started to think about the necessity of the paraffin wax, and its origins from petroleum base. And decided that it was not all that necessary, and that I could work with just the pure bees wax.

Here is a picture of the bees wax as I get it from the local apiarist.

Remember that there is a lot of information about how to batik on the web, and that the techniques vary.

It is worth recognising that the bees wax sets softer than the paraffin wax and that it is less likely to crack. It also flows a bit thicker through the canting tools.

There is a number of different canting tools that you can use. Just google them in your particular country and a number of suppliers will come up. I get mine mailed to me from Australia. And they are the original Indonesian style canting tool that I used when I was in Indonesia.

I like the simpleness of these tools and have not graduated into any other type of canting tool as yet.

These canting tools have different size tips for faster or slower flow of wax. With the pure bees wax the larger tips work much better. This is due to the bees wax being thicker even when it is melted.

To use the canting tool, first it is good to have some sort of design in mind. Although just practicing lines and dots is a very good way to get used to using a tool
like this. The angle that you hold the tool on increases or decreases the flow of the hot wax. The temperature of the wax determines the speed of flow.

Make sure that your wax does not start smoking, this is a sign that your wax is far too hot. You can get very scientific here if you like and work out the exact temperature that gives the perfect wax flow, but I will not be doing the science here.

As your wax heats do a few tests. If your wax is sitting up on top of the cloth then your wax is not hot enough. If it fizzes as you put it on then it is too hot. You will get the feel for the correct temperature as you proceed.

The canting tool will need to be used in conjunction with a small drip rag. This is just a small cloth that catches any dribble or drip before you start drawing on your cloth.

Dip the canting tool into the hot wax, let it warm up. lift it up and let the dribbles from the outside of the tool drip off back into the wax pot. Place the tip of your canting tool against the small folded rag as you bring it over to your cloth. Then start your drawing.

So here is what you do.

  • Set up your cloth stretched over your wire clothes rack and pegged taught.
  • Heat your wax.
  • Dip in your canting tool
  • Draw your design
  • Let the fabric cool
  • Place it in a warm but not hot vegetation dye pot.
  • Leave it for a while.

A good light is important as the wax is not easy to see on light coloured fabric.

In the next post I will be photographing this process as I batik, to give more step by step information.

September 10, 2010


was going to talk about more batik today, but it is dull here.

there is no solar power, not much light, no music, just rain.

good time for a bit of reflection

so we will talk again on monday.

have a good weekend.

September 9, 2010

vegetation dyes used for eco wax batik

Just thought I had better talk a little bit about the vegetation dyes used in eco wax batik.

But before I do, here is a photo for yvette. A wire clothes rack.

In Australia you can find these in opportunity shops, and most big department stores. They are used to drying clothes inside the house in winter.

Oh and thanks for the thought about googling eco batik penny. There is a web called eco batik and so I have changed this name to eco batikT. Just incase.

Vegetation dyes and eco wax batik.

This is very slow cloth, and your patience will be tested with eco wax batik.

OK, firstly, the solar dye techniques used for eco wax batik are similar to that shown in the book Eco Colour by India Flint. It is in this book that you will find a full description of solar dye techniques that do not use chemicals and I highly recommend this book to you . THis book also discusses fabrics and how silk, cotton, and linen take in the dye at different rates, and the different mordants you can use.

There is a slight variation in the dye technique, in that instead of a glass jar for dyeing, it is best to use a wide open pan that can be gently heated either in the sun or on the stove every now and again to keep it slowly steeping.

The wide open pan is important because if you scrunch your batik up too much you will end up with breaks in the wax and this in turn will make your design look marbled. Although, it can look very effective marbled, depending on the outcome that you want.

Anyway, back to the dye.

Wax has a fairly low melting point. And so you cannot boil up your dye once you place your batik into the dye. There are two ways to get your colour in luke warm water. And its probably wise to start doing some experimenting now with the dyes that may be useful in your locality. Because the plants that I use here are not going to be plentiful in your region.

The dye techniques are dependent on the seasons and vary from summer to winter.
  • SUMMER. The first technique is to place a large open pan of vegetation out in the warmest sunniest location you can find for about a week. Place a small sample of silk, cotton, or linen in this container to monitor the colour change. Once your sample is looking a deep colour tone, then its time to place your batik into this pot. You then leave it until it drinks up enough colour. Remember that the fabric always looks darker when it is wet.

  • WINTER. You need to pick your vegetation, soak it, place a pan of vegetation on the stove and heat it to release the colour. Place some small samples of fabric into the pan. If the colour and tone is acceptable then you can place your batik into the warm water, and then just leave it in a warm place for a few days. Or just keep warming the pan slightly every now and again. (don't forget the pan or you will end up with a bubbling pot of dye with wax floating on the top and all you batik will be lost, this happened to me the other day)

Most of you are probably already doing vegetation dye, and understand the differences between silk, cotton, wool, and linen. But if you do not understand this, then you probably need to start doing a few experimental pans of vegetation dye with a small sample of silk, cotton, linen, and wool in it. This will help you understand the dye intakes of the fabrics.

Here is part of my collection of recycled fabrics. All of my cotton and linen is from second hand shops. I like to use reclaimed or recycled fabrics if I can, however I do but some new silk from time to time. Silk is hard to find in the second hand shops here.

Hopefully you have a collection of reclaimed fabrics to try in your batik adventure.

In the next post we will start to get into the waxing.

September 8, 2010

batik tools and equipment

Batik tools are pretty simple, and are used to transport the hot wax to the cloth.

I should mention here that when you are using hot wax you must wear closed shoes, and gloves are also a necessity if you wish to avoid burns to your hands. I also wear glasses, as a splash to your eye could do a bit of damage.

So the first tools are
  1. boots,
  2. gloves,
  3. and glasses.

The equipment needed to start batiking is

  1. A saucepan dedicated to wax that you can heat your wax and also leave your wax in cold. this saves lots of transfer and cleaning up.
  2. Some bees wax
  3. Some very old paint brushes that are not expensive ones. They get wrecked.
  4. Some canting tools of various sizes
  5. A wire clothes rack to peg your fabric tight across while you work on it.
  6. A large open saucepan of vegetation dye to place your batik into to dye.
  7. A saucepan to heat to water to boil the wax out of your fabric.

Over the next few posts we will be getting into the nitty gritty of the process, the types of wax, the types of fabrics, the dye baths, the different types of wax, and getting the wax out.

But I think its best not to overload ourselves with too much, and its best to go slowly along this path.

If any of you would like to add anything to our tools list please feel free, after all this is a networking place for eco batik.

September 6, 2010


When it was raining the other day, I had the urge to create batik rain. And today I am doing some more eco wax batik. I have been doing natural batik for about a year now and love it.

The bees are not such a problem when the weather is cooler.

In summer, the smell of the hot bees wax brings the bees from everywhere.

I have another blog specifically for ECO WAX BATIK. Have been thinking about a special place for batik for a while now. And decided it really needs its own place.

Batik is not new, it has been around for a long long time. Years ago it was made with natural bees wax and vegetation dyes. And more recently it has been created with synthetic dyes, and lots of chemicals. This blog is about reviving an ancient technique and bringing it into our more modern art.

Its a place to record information, ideas, and to network with others.

This ECO WAX BATIK blog is a place where we can share knowledge and ideas about natural batik. While also showing respect each others individual designs and techniques.

So this blog is a place to share stories and developments about bees wax, local vegetation dyes, scraps and fragments of materials, and designs.

I hope that you can join me here.

September 5, 2010


Hello and Welcome

This is where you can learn, and network on environmental friendly batik.

Eco Batik uses nature, just plants, fungi, poo, and bees wax.

This is batik that uses no chemicals or synthetic dyes. And I first learned about this natural batik last year, then went to Bali to learn and develop more skill around natural batik.

So now, here is the blog that shares the techniques, and the cold water dyes and washes that work on eco batik.

You are all most welcome, and thanks for coming along.