Creating Layered Fabric Designs using Batik

Batik can be a really fiddly process that may seem a little scary to try at first – but it doesn’t have to be! In this project we have layered wax and
dyes to create a wonderfully abstract fabric design that can be used for embroidery, quilting, lampshades, clothing or just a piece of artwork in its
own right. It’s so much fun to play around with batik in this way and to surrender to being surprised by your outcome! Here’s how to create an abstract
layered batik: 

Stretch your fabric out onto a batik frame using silk pins. A lightweight cotton works best – we used
Prima cotton.

Heat your wax pot so that the batik wax melts. We turn the dial to 5 1/2
on the Tixor Malam wax pot to get the wax nice and
hot without risk of smoking. The batik wax gives a slight crackle
whilst going on smoothly. Heat your tools in the batik pot. Use on natural fibre brushes in the wax or they will melt! When your brush has heated,
make marks on your cloth by splashing and dripping the wax. Keep dipping your brush into the wax to keep it hot. If the wax is not hot enough it will
turn white on the fabric, sit on the surface and won’t resist the dye.

Don’t make too many marks at this stage. Everything you have waxed will stay white in your finished batik so be mindful not to fill up all the space too

When you have completed your first waxing it’s time to mix the dye. Mix 1/2 tsp of Procion MX dye with 50ml of cold water. Mix this quantity for each of the colours you want to use. For this project I am using
Bright Turquoise, Lemon Yellow, Golden Yellow and Magenta. Put a pipette in each colour. Use the pipettes to take small quantities of dyes and mix your first colour. 

Start with the palest colour you are going to use and work up through the tones getting darker and brighter. The colours will appear darker in the pot
than they do on the fabric and will dry paler still. 

Mix up your chemical water. This will be your fixative, stopping your dyes from completely washing out of fading. Mix 5 tsp urea (colour brightener), 2 tsp soda ash (fixative)
and 1 tsp calgon (for hard water areas like ours) with 1/2 litre
of warm water. 

This mixture will have a life of a couple of hours only. After this point it will no longer work to fix your dyes so mix up a fresh batch if this time
has elapsed. 

Add your chemical water to the dye mixture you have just made. You want at least the same amount of chemical water to dye. 

Use your dye mixture to paint onto your cloth. Use a different brush to your wax brush and don’t muddle them up. Allow your dye to dry completely. You
can speed up this process by using a hairdryer. Keep the hairdryer moving and on a cold setting to avoid melting the wax!

When the dye in completely dry, you’re ready for your second waxing. If the cloth is damp, the wax will sit on the surface and not resist the dye. Use
the paintbrush to add more marks and splashes or use a tjanting to draw lines and squiggles. Different tjantings have different sized spouts creating thinner or thicker lines. 

Each time you add wax, you are preserving the colour beneath it. These wax lines will stay yellow when the next dye colour is put on top.

To mix your new dye colour, add more dye and chemical water to your first colour. This will help you build up the tones so that you know each layer will
work well over the last. 

Use larger brushes to swipe larger wax marks on your cloth – just make sure the wax is hot enough to show a darker greasy mark when applied.

Again, add to your dye mix with more colour and fixative, going darker and bolder each time.

Build up more wax when the cloth is completely dry.

You can use your pipette to add spots of rich bright colour or spot with a smaller paintbrush. The dye will spread over the wet cloth, stopping at waxed

To create even more interesting marks try some sgraffito – use a tool such as an etching needle to scratch into the wax. This will create lines for the dye to access the fabric creating delicate dyed lines with
furry edges.


When you’ve built up your layers so that there is not much unwaxed cloth you’re ready to crackle and dip dye. If you like the look of your fabric at this
stage then you can stop now and skip ahead to ironing the wax out. Crackling your batik will completely transform your design, making it much more
complex and textured. 

If you want to crackle your design, use a large natural fibre brush to cover your whole batik in a layer of wax.


Allow the wax to cool and harden before scrunching up your batik. This will crack the wax, revealing areas of fabric for the dye to penetrate. The more
you scrunch your batik, the more crackle you will get as more dye is allowed to get in to your cloth. We scrunched this batik A LOT so that lots of
dye can get in. You never quite know what you’re going to get after you’ve crackled so it’s always exciting watching it happen!

Mix up a dip dye recipe in a bucket or washing up bowl using 2tsp dye, 2tsp soda ash and 300ml water. We used a mixture of Black, Lemon Yellow and Bright
Turquoise dye to get a sludgy green.


Wear gloves as this dye will stain hands and clothing. Un-scrunch your batik and press it into the dye. You can see the dye getting into the fabric and
dyeing where the wax is cracked.

Once the fabric is covered, remove it from the dye bath and lay it out to dry. Blot off excess dye with kitchen paper. 

When it has dried it’s time to remove the wax. Place your batik on a large wad of newspaper and place another piece on top. Use a hot iron all over the
newspaper. As the wax melts it will saturate the newspaper. When one piece has been saturated, throw it away and replace. Continue until very little
wax is coming out of the cloth.

It’s best to use a separate iron here to the one you use for your clothing or sewing as it can get a little waxy. If your iron starts to smoke at all,
turn it off at the plug to cool down and then wipe away any excess wax from the surface.

When you have finished ironing, your batik is finished! This one has a lot of crackle where the dye has penetrated the cloth, creating lots of weird and
wonderful textures and patterns.

If you intend to use your batik for clothing or home-wares you will need to remove the remaining wax (if not, skip this final step). You can do this by

  • plunging the batik into boiling water for a few seconds (in a large pan not used for food). The wax will melt and rise to the surface. Remove the batik
    with tongs and give it a scrub to remove any flaky wax. Repeat a couple of times until all the wax is out. Wash your batik with a little Metapex to remove any remaining dye.

  • OR some dry cleaners will remove wax for you if you smile sweetly. 

Be aware though, after the wax is removed the batik will appear paler (especially if it is over boiled)! It’s better to go bold and bright with your dyes
to allow for a little fading at this point. 

To complete this project you will need:

Meet the Maker: Jenny Sibthorp

Hello! My name is Jenny Sibthorp and I’m a textile designer based in the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. I work predominantly with screen printed linen and
leather, although some of my designs are now reproduced onto stationery and culinary ware too.


Describe your printmaking process.


Screen printing. All of my designs start off hand drawn and the repeat and design is tweaked until I’m happy with the result.


How and where did you learn to print?


I’m largely self taught. I screen printed at school a few times, then had a very long break, before taking a basic screen printing evening course at
Arts University Bournemouth. I relied heavily on YouTube and a lot of books to get me going, and as always the best way to learn I find, is trial
and error!


Why printmaking?


I’ve always loved pattern and colour. It was whilst taking evening upholstery classes in London that I realised I wanted to try and find a way to work
with my hands for a living and printing seemed like a natural progression of that. Screen printing appealed as it was so transformative, so quick,
and so incredibly satisfying.


Where do you work?


I’m lucky enough to have my own studio on a farm near where I live. It’s very basic having once been part of a milking shed but I love it. I’ve built
the tables, the shelves, there’s a bat and a constant draught. It’s a constant work in progress but having a back door that opens onto a field
of lambs in the summer makes it pretty hard to beat.


Describe a typical day in your studio.


My daily routine varies according to the season. In Winter I’ll work at home in the mornings until the frost has thawed and it’s a workable temperature.
Come summer it’s early starts and late nights as it gets very hot in the middle of the day! It’s a heady mix of emails, admin and if I’m lucky
some printing. I usually have a long printing list to keep my stock levels up, and I’ll tweak this according to wholesale orders etc. Packing orders
and a post office run usually features too. As do plentiful supplies of coffee and BBC Radio 6 Music & Desert Island Discs.


How long have you been printmaking?


Officially, I’d say about 4 years now.


What inspires you?


The outside world: flora, fauna and nature more generally. I’m quite literal in my designing process at the moment.


What is your favourite printmaking product?


I love a good Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink.
I find they mix really well and give great coverage.


What have you made that you are most proud of?


That’s a hard question. I guess upholstering my first ever chair using my own fabric was a pretty huge moment.


Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?


I sell on my own website, etsy, notonthehighstreet, share a local shop with fellow creatives
in Wareham and regularly turn up at markets in Bridport, London and beyond. But I’m also very lucky to have acquired some pretty cool stockists
over the past few years across the UK and a few in Europe now too. Last year my biggest stockist was Anthropologie EU which was particularly exciting
and this year I’m absolutely thrilled that I’ve just finished off a large order for the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford. I can’t wait
to go visit.


What will we be seeing from you next?


A new collection is long overdue and I really want to develop my skills in paper for limited edition prints too.


Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?


Make mistakes, lots of them, both as a learning method and also because sometimes the things that didn’t come out as I planned end up being much much
better than I could have ever imagined!

To see more of Jenny’s wonderful work, visit her website or follow on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.



Meet the Maker: Lennie & Co

Lennie & Co create unisex clothing for kids, that feature playful prints that capture the fun of being little. Created by graphic designer and mother,
Amy Walker, Lennie & Co. is a collection of stylish kidswear that works hard and plays harder. 

Describe your printmaking process.

In the early days I block printed personlised t-shirts letter by letter but once business grew I couldn’t continue as it was so time consuming. I knew
I had to teach myself to screen print. I visited a local studio in Devon and got some tips from them, watched lots of YouTube videos. I like the art
of screen printing, it is more than just sealing a design to a t-shirt, the method makes it more authentic. There are a lot of heat transfer applications
about and I didn’t want to go down that route.

How and where did you learn to print?

I started the business by block printing using foam hand cut stamps. It was all very accidental as I was having a craft day with my son Lennox making bunting.
Then I had a go at block printing a t-shirt and the rest was history.

Why printmaking? 

I’m a graphic designer and whilst I had always had a huge interest in screen printing I had never done it. My house is filled with limited edition screen
prints. I like the craft behind it, it always feels so much more authentic then a digital print and that you own a piece of the artist and their passion.

Where do you work?

We moved house last year and I converted our garage into a studio. Before than I was working in the spare room… You can imagine the carpet got a tad
messy. It’s nice to close myself off in the studio to work rather than it intruding on our family home.

Describe a typical day in your studio

Well I still work full time so as you can imagine days differ heavily. This morning (Saturday) I woke at 5:30am to crack on with a wholesale order of our
Sibling Series T-Shirts. They’re just a one colour print so quite an easy task. Other days consist of designing prints for upcoming season. They start
something solely on the computer or some from hand drawn elements. I design all of our prints and hand print our slogan t-shirts. 

How long have you been printmaking?

Two and a half years as a screen printer, although I studied Creative Art at college and Fashion at uni which allowed me to experiment.

What inspires you?

Mainly my son, the funny things he says but definitely the area we live in too. We live on the South Devon coast and I spend time with a coffee watching
the weather rolling over the sea. Beach huts, pebbles, shadows. I feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country which allows me to
relax and have a great work/life balance. 

What is your favourite printmaking product?

An odd and unexpected one but my ikea kids plastic cutlery. I spread ink with them, mix ink with them and use them for everything when printing. Random
but I’d be lost with out them.

What are you most proud of? 

Last year I sent a handful of my screen printed t-shirts to enter the Junior Design Awards. The awards are a recognised national competition for Children’s
brands form the UK and overseas, which include the like of M&S and Mothercare as well as independent businesses. I came Silver in the Best Emerging
brand. That was a rather exciting moment!

Where can we see your work? Where do you sell? 

Our full range is available though our website We are also available
on Not On The Highstreet and a handful of small online children’s stores.

What will we be seeing from you next?

Our summer range launches on May 24th. Which features lots of fun and colourful prints ready for the sunshine!

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

Go for it! Be experimental if you have time. Time is normally my worst enemy to create new concepts but if I had more of it I’d love to venture into more
detailed printing.

See more of Lennie and Co’s prints on their website

Printing Tea Towels for WaterAid

Our Handprinted Tea Towel Exchange for WaterAid is in full swing! Yesterday we opened the studio to anyone wanting to print their three tea towels and we got some lovely results.

Tea towels aren’t due in to us until the end of June so there’s still time to take part. We’d love to raise lots of money for WaterAid so we would like to get as many people as we can to take part and donate!
Anyone can join in, you don’t have to be an expert printmaker – you don’t even need to have done any printing before. The tea towels can be any style
of design and use any techniques that you like – have a play and see what you can make! Post your three tea towels to us and receive three random tea
towels from other participants in return – a great way to see what other people are making! Scroll to the bottom of this page to see how to take part. 

Here are a few pictures from the day showing the prints being made. 

Diane, Rebecca and Gill working on their prints


Rebecca’s linocut


Rebecca used Caligo Relief Inks to print her tea towels


Rebecca and Gill’s tea towels hanging up to dry


Diane’s tea towels hanging up to dry


Gill’s finished tea towel


The beginning of Holly’s drawing for an exposed screen


The finished drawing for Holly’s exposed screen


Holly’s exposed screen


Holly’s finished tea towel


Angela’s inked up lino blocks


Angela’s finished tea towel

Watch a quick video to see Angela’s tea towels being printed on our etching press last night:


Want to join in? Here’s how:

Step 1: Click here to donate to WaterAid
via our Just Giving page – we suggest a donation of £10

Step 2: Sign up for the exchange either by popping into the Handprinted Shop or clicking here to
register as a postal participant.

Postal participants are charged £1.60 which will go towards covering postage expenses – absolutely no profit will be made from postage costs. Entrants
anywhere within Europe can join in too!

Step 3: Print your tea towels! Show us what you’re making using the hashtag #teatowelsforwateraid

Step 4: Get your tea towels to us by 30th June – drop them off at our Bognor Regis shop or post to: Handprinted, 22 Arun Business Park,
Shripney Road, Bognor Regis, PO22 9SX. Please include your name and address so we know who the tea towels are from.

Step 5: Receive your three random tea towels! Pick up from the shop or receive them in the post. We will send the tea towels out in mid
July. Show us what your received using the hashtag #teatowelsforwateraid