Batik is one of my favorite hobbies. I started early this year, usually I get into these projects around the new year when it’s too cold to do anything outside.

I started with a film still from a video found on YouTube.

fishoceanschool2I drew out the design in pencil on a piece of linen and painted red and yellow fish with Jacquard’s painting dye. Let it dry to set. Then, melted wax to 350 degrees and brushed it over the fish so they would not be dyed in the subsequent dye bath, or, wherever I wanted to keep the image white. The wax acts as a resist to the dye.

fishocean1I dyed it in a light Caribbean Blue for an hour, agitating it here and there.

fishoceandyedarkWith each dye bath, first mix up the Procion MX dye in a container and add this concentrated dye to about 2 quarts of warm water, which is enough to cover about 14 inches of cloth. Add a little salt to the dye bath, then put the fabric in and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  Take out the fabric and add about a teaspoon of Soda Ash to the salty dye and mix it up. Put the fabric back in the dye solution and agitate. Let it be in the dye for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

fishoceandyefirstiiHang the fabric and let the dye adhere to the fabric, about 10 to 30 minutes or it can dry overnight.

fishocean2Wash the fabric with Synthrapol and let it dry.

I added wax to the piece where I wanted to keep it light blue.


fishocean4I made a darker shade of Caribbean Blue for the next dye bath.


fishoceandryingwaxlightblueHung fabric for a least 30 minutes to let the dye adhere to the fibers, washed it out to get rid of excess dye and let it dry. Then, I added more melted wax to the piece where I wanted it this shade of blue.

fishoceanfirstwaxAfter adding the wax I put it in a dye bath of Robin’s Egg Blue, Wisteria Blue and a little Scarlet Red. When dyed over the Caribbean Blue, it produced a purplish hue.


fishoceandyebLet the dye adhere to fabric. Wash it and hang it up to dry.


fishoceandryingwaxaI added more wax to keep the purple color and put it in a Black dye bath for at least an hour. The final dye is tricky because it’s your darkest shade that will make the other colors pop, but it’s also saturating  fibers, that by now, are filled with a lot of dye particles, so you have to wash the fabric out thoroughly with a little extra Synthrapol, add more dye than usual and keep it in the bath longer.

fishoceandyefirstiiFinal dry. I washed it out and then boiled the piece for a few hours.

fishoceanlastwaxBoiling will get out most of the wax. If not, iron the piece between pieces of thick paper until all the wax is gone.

fishoceanboillFinal piece in window.


fishoceanfinalOne piece of Batik can take a few days to finish, this one took me a couple of weeks. I’ll let the fabric dry overnight sometimes and  just work on the piece whenever I can. The end result is always a surprise. It’s a little bit like developing film in a dark room.

Happy New Year!

To see more batik, visit Wax Painting Gallery. Batik as contemporary art.