Back To Basics: Soy Wax Batik

UPDATE: Check out this new soy wax tutorial from 2021.

This year I’m started a new series of monthly “Back to Basics” posts which will include introductory information on different surface design techniques. I love to teach both through my blog and “live”, and thought these might be helpful for those of you out there who are newbees to surface design or just want to learn something different. I do know that many of you are experienced with some of the techniques.  Please feel free to add your knowledge. Some of these posts will also including videos.

Back To Basics

My first of this series is on Soy Wax Batik. I love soy wax because it is so much easier to remove from the fabric than the traditional batik wax. Soy wax burns clean with no fumes (no headaches for me!), and is a non-petroleum renewable product (good for the environment).  Using soy wax as a resist is fun and you get a lot of great results. And the biggie is that it’s easy. Please again understand, this is a basic – just get you started and your feet wet – tutorial. There is so much more you can do with this technique.

So let’s get started. Here is what you will need.

  1. Melting pot – A electric skillet works great and can be picked up at thrift or discount stores. Make sure it has a temperature gauge.
  2. Soy wax – Purchase this at ProChemical and Dye or Dharma Trading.  I would be hesitant to buy soy wax from candle companies, but that’s my opinion.
  3. Covered padded surface
  4. Tools – These can be anything except plastic which might melt. Tjantings are great to make thin lines and write with, but are not necessary. I do use one in my video.
  5. Fabric – I am using a silk hankie in this tutorial, but using other fabric is fine. Since I am painting with Dye-Na-Flow, the fabric does not have to be natural. If we were using fiber reactive dyes the fabric would need to be natural.
  6. Freezer paper (optional) – I ironed this to the back of the silk hankie to make it stable. You could also pin it to the padded surface.
  7. Drip catcher – I am using a piece of cardboard as a catcher. This prevents the wax dripping on the fabric as I move it over my piece.
  8. Foil rest –  I used a piece of foil to put tools on after removing them from the wax pot.
  9. Dye-Na-Flow paints -for this tutorial I’m using these paints.
  10. Sumi brushes – You can use others, but I love how these spread the paint over the fabric.
  11. Small mixing bowl – This is for watering down the paint.

So let’s get started. Once your soy wax is melted (It melts between 110 and 140 degrees. Once melted I turn the temperature control to warm.), place your tools in the melting pot to warm up.

soy wax potIn the above photo you can see my electric skillet, my tools in it, my drip catcher in the foreground, and the foil I use to set my wax covered tools on when I remove them from the wax. On the left is my covered padded surface with a piece of fabric.

Now let’s get to the video. You may have trouble viewing the video from the email newsletter. Please come to blog to view.

After completing that step, it’s on to paint the fabric. I used Dye-na-flow because of the ease of  use on silk which makes this a great beginner project.


Now to finish. Once the Dye-na-flow is dry, if you are using the freezer paper, remove it. Then put a cloth on both sides of the fabric and iron. You could also use newsprint. In addition to ironing out the wax, this step sets the paint. The paint instructions say to iron on reverse side for three minutes at temperature suitable for fabric to set the paint. I always like to iron a little longer to be extra sure the paint won’t wash out.

soywaxremoval1Then wash in warm water and dry in the dryer. Since I was just working with this small hankie, I handwashed it and then put it in the dryer. Iron and you are done.


Now this is just the beginning. If you wanted to add more texture and design, before washing, add another layer of wax and paint. You can continue until you are happy with the results. I’ll have more ideas on using soy wax in future posts.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or email me.