Textile artist Janet Lasher shares her technique for soy wax batik fabric design in this beautiful, spring-inspired silk scarf project. Make one to adorn each holiday bonnet or as a great outfit accessory.
This scarf is great to make for yourself or for a gift, and it comes from your “green” studio when you use eco-friendly soy wax. This is a great first project to explore soy batik; the wax acts as a resist on the scarf, making painting almost foolproof. Using textile paints instead of dyes simplifies the process enough to complete in an afternoon. Make it contemporary, classic, or wild, depending on your choice of colors and wax patterns.
- Hemmed silk scarf
- Soy wax (pillar wax)
- 3 colors Dye-na-Flow® paints such as chartreuse, violet, midnight
- Old electric skillet, small crock-pot, or double boiler
- 1″- and 2″-wide natural-bristle paintbrushes for wax
- Two ¾” brushes for paint
- 1½” brush for background paint
- Plastic drop cloth
- Old sheet
- Gentle detergent
- Cup or small bowl
- Old newspapers
Caution: Do not leave melted wax unattended. Always unplug any electrical tools when you are done using them.
1. In a well-ventilated area, prepare a work surface that is large enough to accommodate the scarf when laid flat. Cover the surface with a plastic drop cloth topped with an old sheet.
2. Pre-wash the scarf using gentle detergent and let it dry. Press to remove wrinkles. Pin the scarf to the cloth on your worktable.
3. Melt the wax in an old electric skillet or crock-pot, or in the top of a double boiler. Soy wax melts at 150° Fahrenheit; do not overheat it.
Note: Always use natural-bristle brushes with wax. The wax will not come out of the brushes, so mark them for this use.
4. Dip a natural-bristle brush into the melted wax and apply it to the scarf in oval rings or the design of your choice, keeping in mind that the areas painted with wax will resist the paint and remain white. Some designs should appear to run off the edge of the scarf. Hold a cup or small bowl under the brush as you move from one area to the next to prevent wax from randomly dripping onto your scarf. The wax will harden almost immediately.
5. Paint a ring inside the wax ovals with the chartreuse textile paint. The wax will stop the paint from bleeding beyond the oval.
6. Paint inside the chartreuse ring using a clean brush and violet paint. Let the paint dry.
7. Cover the dry painted areas with melted wax.
8. Paint the entire scarf with the midnight textile paint.
9. Unpin the scarf and remove it from your worktable. Hang it on a clothesline to let the paint dry.
10. Layer newspapers on your worktable, lay down the scarf, and cover with another layer of newspapers.
11. To heat set the paints and remove the wax, press through the newspapers using a hot, dry iron. The wax will melt into the paper.
Note: Iron wax in a well-ventilated area only.
12. Remove the scarf from the layers of newspaper.
13. To remove the remaining wax, machine wash the scarf in hot water. Line dry, and press for a crisp finish.
Note: The soy wax will not clog your drain.
Janet Lasher is a textile artist who uses printmaking, surface design, embellishment techniques, and any new media or techniques that interest her to create multi-dimensional, interpretive works, which range from jewelry to scarves and clothing to visual art. You can visit her blog for more information.
I love that this technique is so versatile!
Make your own batik fabric for a quilting project or design a line of scarves or other wearables for your friends. What other spring projects can we make? Pick up a copy of The Quilting Arts Idea Book to find out today!