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The art of batiking has been popular for years, giving people a way of creating their own designs on fabric. This is done by waxing parts of the fabric you do not wish to dye and then using your choice of colors to dye the rest. Although many types of fabric can be used in this manner the best fabric is a plain, light colored cotton. Synthetics will not work with this process since the dye will not penetrate. Always wash new fabric to be used in this process in hot, soapy water and rinse it well to get out any soap residue. Allow the fabric to thoroughly dry before you begin.
To begin you will need to purchase the fabric you would like to batik. Try to decide what you will be making with the fabric once the design is complete. While you are at the fabric store look for a pattern for the item you wish to make. This will help you determine the number of yards you will need. The paraffin and cold water dye you will need can often be purchased at a local fabric store as well. Otherwise you will need to check with a local craft shop to find these items. After you have washed and dried the fabric, stretch it tight and tack it to a large picture frame or a canvas stretcher. Using a piece of charcoal or a pencil, sketch the design on the fabric. Prepare your wax by heating one pound of paraffin and 5 tablespoons of beeswax in a double broiler until it is 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a candy thermometer to determine when you wax is ready. You will be using cold water dyes so the wax will not melt and ruin your design. Mix the dyes according to the instructions on the package. When you are using more than one color you will need to start with the lightest one first.
Using a small paint the melted was over the parts of the design you do not want to color. When this is complete, untack the fabric and soak it in the first dye for at least 20 minutes. Rinse the fabric thoroughly to make sure that any residue of the dye is removed and dry the fabric. To remove the wax you will need to cover your ironing board with newspaper and place the dry fabric between layers of paper towels. Using a dry iron with the setting just below cotton, press the fabric on both sides. As the wax accumulates on the paper towels, change them out and continue pressing until all the wax has been removed. When you are using two or more colors you will repeat the steps above. Be sure you cover the part of the dyed area that you do no want blended with the second color. Continue this process until all the colors have been applied. After the fabric has dried for the final time, you are ready to sew or mount your fabric.
To simplify this method you can buy items of clothing that are made of 100 percent cotton and use the steps above to make your own designs. Be sure you always rinse the fabric or item of clothing in cold water so you will not melt the wax. It is also wise to go lightly when brushing on the wax. Make sure the part you do not want to dye is completely but lightly covered. This will make the wax removal process less time consuming. It is safe to use dark colors when batiking if you always remember to use the lightest colors first. Remember that when you blend some colors it might change the outcome. Try to find a color chart that will help you get the desired results.