What is Batik Wax? How Is It Used In Batik Design?

Have you ever seen a piece of batik fabric with beautiful, intricate designs and wondered how it was made? Batik is a textile design technique that uses wax to create those stunning patterns.

And what is batik wax? The batik wax is a wax used in the batik textile design process to resist the dye. It is typically made from a mixture of beeswax and paraffin wax.

Designers use batik wax to create beautiful designs, from abstract patterns to images of nature or animals. This blog post will discuss what batik wax is, how it is used in batik textile design, and some of its benefits.

What is Batik?

batik fabrics
Beautiful batik fabrics. Credit: canva

Batik is a wax-resist dyeing technique that creates bold, multi-colored patterns and is applied to whole batik cloth, or cloth made using this technique.

Batik involves applying melted wax to the fabric and then dyeing the fabric. The wax resists the dye, resulting in patterns on the dyed fabric. Indonesian people initially developed it to provide a means of clothing that would not be expensive.

The batik technique allows for the design to remain intact during the dye. The wax or other resist must be removed from the fabric after dyeing because it would prevent any additional colors from permeating the fabric.

Batik can be done with many types of dye & wax on cotton, silk, and other natural fabrics. Most weights will work, provided the wax penetrates through the material, but the finer weaves work best for detail.

What is Batik Wax?

Batik wax: What is it?

The batik wax is a type of wax used in the batik textile design process. It is typically made from a mixture of beeswax and paraffin wax. Batik wax has a low melting point, making it ideal for batik textile design.

In Indonesia, once the wax has melted from the material, it is then dyed in the desired colors. After it is colored, it is set again, allowing the wax to be melted off and the dye to penetrate through each layer of fabric.

Without this process, a single color would not be seen throughout because once one color is applied, another would cover it up and make a pattern where there was initially none.

Benefits of using batik wax

batik wax
Melted batik wax, ready to be used. Credit: canva

The benefits of using batik wax include:

  • It allows for bold, multi-colored patterns
  • It is applied to whole cloth or fabric made using this technique
  • It resists the dye, resulting in patterns on the dyed fabric
  • It can be done with many types of dye and wax on cotton, silk, and other natural fabrics
  • Most weights of cloth can be used, provided the wax penetrates through the fabric
  • Finer weaves work best for detail work

What batik wax is used for?

Some of the most common things you may use batik wax for are textile, art, and dyeing in Indonesia.

This wax is used to create beautiful and bold patterns on any fabric. You can use this method to make clothing, tapestries, or other textile-based projects.

Many artists use batik wax as a resist when painting. This means the paint will not seep through the areas where the wax has been applied. This can create interesting effects and allow you to be more precise with your painting. This wax is also used in art projects.

Finally, batik wax is also used for dyeing in Indonesia. This method of applying color to fabric results in bold and beautiful patterns.

Wax batik types

Standard batik wax

This is the most common type of batik wax. It is made from a mixture of natural ingredients, like beeswax and paraffin wax, sometimes mixed with plant resins, which function as a dye-resist.

Standard batik wax has a low melting point, making it ideal for batik textile design. The wax can be applied with a variety of tools. The most common method is to use a tjanting, a metal or bamboo tool with a small cup on end.

The wax is poured into the cup and then applied to the fabric in the desired pattern.

Soy wax

What is soy wax? Soy wax is an alternative to beeswax that you can use for making candles. Soy wax is made from soybean oil that has been processed into hydrogenated flakes.

This type of wax is more sustainable, plant-based, natural, and petroleum-free than standard batik wax. Soy candles burn cleaner, are less toxic, and emit fewer allergens. Soy wax can also be used for making batik. 

Paraffin wax

Paraffin wax is a type of petroleum-based wax made from crude oil. It is solid at room temperature and has a high melting point. It is commonly used in making candles and in batik textile design.

This wax is less expensive than soy or beeswax, burning longer. However, paraffin wax is not as environmentally friendly as soy or beeswax.

Beeswax

Beeswax is a type of wax that is secreted by bees. It is used in the construction of honeycombs and in the production of beeswax candles.

Beeswax can also be used for making batik. Beeswax batik is typically silk, as it does not damage the fabric.

Crayon batik on fabric

What are crayon batik and hot wax?

Crayon batik is a technique that involves repeatedly using melted wax crayons to create a raised relief image on fabric. The wax is then removed to leave a detailed impression.

Crayon painting has been around for many years. It was popular in the 1960s and 1970s when people used crayons to create clothing articles that they would customize with slogans on T-shirts.

There are many different crayon batik techniques, but the most basic method involves placing a piece of fabric over an object, saturating it with hot wax, and stamping it.

How to Use It in Textile Design?

batik making
Hand-written batik-making process by using batik wax and tjanting. Credit: canva

How Is batik wax used in textile design?

The batik wax is applied to the fabric using a canting tool. The canting is a small, pointed tool used to apply the wax to the material. The wax is applied to the fabric in various patterns and designs.

After the wax has been applied to the fabric, the fabric is then dyed. The dye penetrates the areas of the material that are not covered in resin. The result is a beautiful, multi-colored pattern on the fabric.

The batik wax can be removed from the fabric after being dyed. The resin can be removed by washing the fabric in hot water or using a steam iron.

Batik design tools

Tjanting (Canting)

tjanting
Tjanting. Credit: canva

The tjanting is a batik design tool used to apply the wax to the fabric. The tjanting is a small, pointed tool used to apply the wax to the material.

Dye

The dye is used to color the areas of the fabric that are not covered in wax. The dye penetrates the areas of the material that are not covered in wax.

Wax

The wax is applied to the fabric using tjanting tools. The wax is applied to the material in various patterns and designs. One of the well-known suppliers is Jacquard Batik Wax. It is a professional-quality wax that produces a distinctive crackle effect for traditional batik.

Fabric

The batik wax is applied to the fabric using a canting tool. The wax is applied to the material in various patterns and designs. After the wax has been applied to the fabric, the fabric is then dyed.

Batik making process

The batik-making process involves applying wax to the fabric, dyeing the material, and then removing the wax from the fabric. It is a labor-intensive process. The following are the stages in the process of making the original batik.

  1. Wash the fabric first, and then dry it.
  2. For drawing the patterns and design, apply a hot wax solution to the fabric with a tjanting.
  3. Allow the wax to cool and harden.
  4. Dye the fabric with the desired color, and then dry it. If you plan to do multiple layers, you will want to dye your colors from lightest to darkest, depending on the color scheme.
  5. After the fabric is dry, remove the resist by boiling or scraping the cloth.
  6. The areas treated with resist keep their original color; when the resist is removed, the contrast between the dyed and undyed areas forms the pattern.
  7. Repeat this process as many times as the number of colors desired.
  8. Wash your fabric one last time to remove any leftover wax residue you couldn’t get out by hand. Dry your fabric.
  9. Now you can get to sewing, quilting, wrapping, or hanging it up because it looks so good you can’t bear to cut it up.

More About Batik Indonesia

Types of batik based on the making techniques

Written batik (batik tulis)

Hand-written batik is traditional batik made by drawing patterns directly on fabric and then dyed. The advantage of this method is that the maker can be exact in creating the desired design. The downside is that it is a slow process and, therefore, more expensive.

Stamped batik (batik cap)

batik stamp
Block wax application for making stamped batik. Credit: canva

Stamped batik is made by pressing a wooden or metal stamp tool, called a cap, into wax that has been melted and applied to the fabric. The advantage of this method is that it is much faster than written batik and, therefore, less expensive. The downside is that the designs are not as precise as written batik.

Painted batik (batik painting)

Painted batik is made by painting wax onto the fabric. The advantage of this method is that it is swift and, therefore, less expensive. The downside is that the designs are not as precise as written batik.

Batik prints (batik printing)

Batik prints are fabric paint made by printing wax onto the fabric. The advantage of this method is that it is swift and, therefore, less expensive. The downside is that the designs are not as precise as written batik.

The uses of batik

There are many different uses of batik. Some of them include:

  • Kain Panjang (sarong)
  • Wall hangings
  • Art forms
  • Various designs of batik clothes

Types of batik based on Indonesian traditional patterns

Batiks are traditionally categorized according to their essential and symbolic patterns. Each pattern usually has several philosophical meanings.

These categories include:

  • Kawung Batik
  • Coastal Batik
  • Batik Pekalongan
  • Batik Mega Mendung
  • Batik Sekar Jagad
  • Sidomulyo and Sidomukti Batik
  • Batik Jawa Timuran (East Java)
  •  Batik Larang
  • Batik Pesisir
  • Inland Batiks
  • Assimilation within batik designs

Types of batik based on Indonesian traditional motifs

There are many standard traditional motifs in batik. It is also believed the motif made the batik famous.

Several of the most famous batik motifs are:

  • Sogan motifs
  • Asih motif
  • Biren leaf motif
  • Central Java-based motif
  • Decorative motif
  • Floral motifs
  • Grompol motif

 Batik fabric color schemes

There are many colors used for batik. However, they are usually earthy colour variations. And each pattern or motif usually has its standard colors or color schemes.

Here are several of the standard color schemes:

  • Mega Mendung motifs must have seven color gradations.
  • Sidomulyo and Sidomukti batik motifs are essentially the same, with the only difference being the minor color variations.
  • Sogan has the basic color black or brown with a natural dye and white background.

Batik Museum in Indonesia

Modern Batiks

For modern batik fabrics, you can easily create a palette of brilliant colors ranging from light pastels to deep, vibrant hues. Modern batik artists express themselves freely in a wide range of subjects.

FAQs

What type of wax do you need for batik?

The type of wax you need for batik depends on the type of fabric. For cotton, you will need paraffin wax. For silk, you will need beeswax.

What is the purpose of the wax in batik?

The purpose of the wax in batik is to resist the wax-dyed cloth. The fabric’s areas covered in wax will not be dyed.

How do you remove batik wax?

You can remove batik wax by boiling it or scraping it off. You can also use a commercial product, such as Batik Wax Remover.

What is wax batik? Can you use beeswax for batik?

Yes, you can use beeswax for batik. Beeswax is typically used for silk batik, as it does not damage the fabric.

What is the difference between batik and tie-dye?

The main difference between batik and tie-dye is that the wax resists the dye with batik, while the wax-dyed cloth is tied in knots to resist the dye. With batik, you can also create more complex designs than with tie-dye.

Can I use soy wax for batik?

Yes, you can use soy wax for batik. Soy wax is an excellent alternative to paraffin wax, as it is less harmful to the environment.

How do you set the color in batik fabric?

You set the color in batik fabric by boiling it. This sets the dye and prevents it from running when you wash the fabric.