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.


kaite said...

you make it very clear and easily understandable. would you mind telling me which company you get the tools from in Aus? thanks, kaite

T said...

Thanks for that kaite


Penny Berens said...

Oh, boy, I've tried chanting tools before and I was useless with them! This will take lots of practice.

kaite said...

and thanks to you for the supplier. your reply finally came thru late today as bigpond was having a hissy fit most of the last 24/24.

T said...

penny, yes you are right it does take practice, but, boy, is it a fun thing to do. I love it.

kaite, hope you get your canting tools soon.


Deb G said...

I'll have to see if the local art store has some canting tools, I think they have in the past. If not Dharma supply here I come.... So far I've painted over stencils with a paint brush for patterns.

T said...

Good luck in finding your canting tools deb, art stores usually have a variation of them.