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The Rit Studio: Wax-Less Batik

How to Dye Using the Wax-Less Batik Technique

Traditional batik uses hot wax to create designs when dyeing fabric. The wax acts as a “resist”—it prevents the dye from penetrating the fabric, thereby creating the desired pattern or design that has been stamped, stenciled or drawn onto the fabric with wax.

But hot wax is very hard to handle, and after dyeing, the wax is difficult to remove. So we prefer the “wax-less” batik method where a washable resist, such as Crafter’s Pick™ Batik-EZ Resist Medium or Elmer’s School Glue Gel (blue), is used in place of the hot wax. Washable really means washable: the resist simply rinses out after dyeing along with the excess dye, making this method faster and easier than hot wax while delivering the same great results.

Prep, dye and clean up time: About 1 hour

You’ll Need

  • • White or pre-dyed 100% cotton fabric
  • Rit Dye, liquid or powder
  • Washable resist medium, such as Crafter’s Pick™Batik E-Z Resist Medium or Elmer’s School Glue Gel (blue)
  • Rubber stamps
  • Stencils, stencil spray adhesive, stencil brush
  • Artist brushes
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large spoon
  • 1-cup containers
  • Paper plate
  • Latex gloves
  • Pot holders
  • Plastic wrap
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic table cover (garbage bags are an option)
  • Hair dryer (optional)

Step by Step

  1. Cover work surface with a plastic table cover to protect it in case of spills.

  2. Overlap sheets of plastic wrap so they are slightly larger than the fabric to be dyed. Place fabric on top of plastic wrap.

  3. Pour some washable resist medium on a paper plate. Apply design to fabric using stamps, stencils or by hand drawing it.

  4. a.For stamps
    use a brush to apply the resist evenly to the stamp before pressing it onto the fabric. Clean out open areas in the stamp with end of brush to remove any excess resist.

  5. b.For stencils
    use a stencil spray adhesive to adhere stencil to fabric. Then using a stencil brush, apply resist to open areas on the stencil.

  6. c.For hand drawing designs
    use a brush to create designs or letters directly on the fabric.

  7. Allow resist to air dry overnight or use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process. Holding the dryer too close to the fabric for too long can create burn marks, so watch carefully.

  8. Wearing latex gloves, shake dye bottles before pouring. Measure and mix 1 teaspoon liquid dye or 2 teaspoons powder dye with ½ cup very hot tap water; stir well. Pour dye and water into 1-cup containers. Add more dye for more intense colors or use more water for lighter colors.

  9. Apply one or more dye colors around resist-created designs, blending colors. Dyes can be brushed, sprayed, dipped or drizzled onto the fabric.

  10. Cover the batik-dyed fabric with plastic wrap and seal the edges. Cover bottom of microwave with paper towels to protect against spills and place plastic-wrapped fabric in the microwave. Set microwave for 1 – 2 minutes. DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED. Watch carefully to be sure plastic wrap does not melt and fabric does not scorch.

  11. Use pot holders to carefully remove plastic-wrapped fabric from microwave. THE PLASTIC WRAP WILL BE HOT. Wait a few minutes to allow the plastic wrap to cool.

  12. Remove plastic wrap and rinse fabric in cool water until the water runs clear of dye. Wash again in warm water with mild detergent. Rinse and air or machine dry.

Try our FAQs, or Ask The Dye Doctor

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi Evelyn,nWhen using the Batik method, there are many different ways people people have done it without using the microwave. Depending on what shade you are trying to achieve, if it is a lighter color, there may be no heat needed. Other people have used blow-dryers as well when achieving brighter colors. We hope this information is helpful.

  • Kelly

    Will this technique work if you use rit color remover instead of a fabric dye?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Kelly, Rit color remover is a fabric treatment. It removes all color that is comes in contact with and takes the fabric back to white or creamy where it started. Hope this information is helpful. .

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi Teresa, Yes you can certainly do that, but please keep in mind the resist can only hold up for small increments of time in a hot dye bath.

  • Marlee

    How would you incorporate the Rit Dye Fixative at the end of these instructions? If you are dipping the fabric, how would you use the microwave to enhance the color? (Not a pastel person-gotta have bold 🙂 )

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Marlee, We would recommend using the spray method to apply Rit Dye Fixative. Instructions can be found by going to: https://www.ritdye.com/techniques/the-basics/dye-fixative/ You will want to use very hot water (140 to 160 degrees) when preparing the dyebath. Use of the microwave does not enhance a color, but is intended to help set the dye. Hope this information is helpful.

  • Jill

    I want to try this Elmer’s Glue/wax- less Batik with a large group of kids to stencil our church logo and so they can free draw! Is the microwave heat set replace the soda ash soak step for tie dyeing? I realize t-shirts must be dry for glue to stick, but I don’t think I have access to a microwave for 40 shirts! Would spraying water/soda ash solution after glue is dry, work to prepare shirts for receiving dye and set it without the microwave?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Jill,
      The microwave is recommended to heat-set the dye. Unfortunately we do not use soda ash along with our dyes. There are other ways to heat-set the dye that people use. Another method we recommend is using a steam iron. Hope the information is helpful.

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  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi Ama, Thank you for reaching out. The dyes do need hot water to get the proper color results, especially when it comes to dyeing nylon. A resist will work up to a certain point as the hot water needed will cause the resist to wash out after just a few minutes in the dye bath. Dark colors such as black, navy blue and dark brown should be used at about 160 degrees. Lighter colors can be done at about 140 degrees. If you decide to give it a try, you will need to wash carefully in cold water as the dye can get onto other areas and where the resist was applied. The only other technique you might try would be to tie off in a tie dye approach if you are looking to dye large areas and have other areas not take on the dye. The same issues when washing out could occur, so you want to carefully rinse the fabric with and without the rubber bands in cold water.

    • Ama

      Thank you. I’ve dyed the same fabric all over without issue of it washing out with the bucket method before. The fabric also seems to be able to withstand being heat set using an iron (as long as the iron is kept moving and a cloth placed between fabric and iron), so might this be a possibility to set the dye? Oh, also, I’m based in the UK so just wanted to check if the temperatures you mentioned are in Celsius of Fahrenheit? Would the resist last longer if I were able to dye the fabric at a lower temperature? And if not, would it be possible to paint the dye on as in the method outlined above and then set it with an iron afterwards?

      Sorry for so many questions, I’m aware what I’m aiming is a little outside of the normal projects most people probably use dye for.

      • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

        Hello Ama, Thank you for your response. Our heat for the dye would be 140-160 Fahrenheit, lowering the temperature for the resist would not work due to the high heat needed for dye to activate. Unfortunately the iron does not produce enough heat to set the dye the way you are trying to, all of the paint on dye methods needs to be set in microwave wrapped in plastic wrap so you wouldn’t get the same effect. Hope this helps.

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hi Jason, We have not any experimentation with rubber cement. It may be difficult to wash off of the shoe after the dyeing process. Let us know if you have any other questions.

  • Mish

    I don’t like the brightness of a yellow/Orange batik fabric.
    Is there a way I can dye it to dull the bright color??

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Mish, Rit’s color expert chose to dye the background fabric yellow. If you would prefer to use a different color, we would recommend choosing a pastel color. If you have already dyed the fabric, you might try Rit color remover. The color remover will try to remove the dye very quickly. You might watch the fabric closely and pull it out of the mixture as soon as the shade begins to lighten. Otherwise, we would recommend the color remover and re-dyeing the fabric in your color of choice. Let us know if you have any other questions we can help you with.

    • Tarie

      You could also “dull” the color with a compatible color like black or cocoa brown. Add two capfuls to a full 20qt stockpot of water, bring to a boil and the dye should tone down the brightness, while leaving the intent intact

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hello Judy,
    Thank you for reaching out. We would recommend for you to contact your local craft store such as Hobby Lobby, Micheal’s, AC Moore, or JoAnn Fabric for availability and recommendations. Hope this helps.

  • Mike

    Can this resist be used on silk ?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hello Mike, Thank you for reaching out. Yes, you can use resist on silk. Let us know if you need further assistance.

  • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

    Hello Riley, Thank you for the response. There is not a replacement step for the microwave but if you want to try you can use an iron to help “heat set” the dye. Hope this helps.

  • Denni

    Will the Blue Elmer’s Glue or Resist “crack” like Wax to show a Crackle Pattern in the design?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Denni, Thank you for reaching out. When applying a “resist” to fabric to create a design, it should not crack. If you would like a crackle pattern, you might experiment with how you apply the “resist”.

  • Stacy Scott

    I tried the glue method, but it washed out in the water and the dye got into that area anyway- what did I do wrong?

    • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

      Hi Stacy, Thank you for reaching out. We are sorry to hear that your project did not go as expected. So that we can further assist you with your project, we have emailed you some questions.

      • Stacy Scott

        I applied the glue with a brush to a dry shirt, I then applied dye and then put it in a bag and sit overnight. I think maybe I did not put the glue on heavy enough.

        • http://ritstudio.com RitDye

          Hi Stacy, After looking over the instructions for this project, we found they state: Allow resist to air dry overnight or use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process. This is to be done prior to dyeing the fabric. Once the fabric is dyed it states: Cover the batik-dyed fabric with plastic wrap and seal the edges. Cover bottom of microwave with paper towels to protect against spills and place plastic-wrapped fabric in the microwave. Set microwave for 1 – 2 minutes. Hope this helps and let us know if you have any other questions we can help you with.

          • Stacy Scott

            Sorry I guess it wasn’t clear I allowed the glue to dry for about 48 hours before dyeing. But I didn’t use a microwave.

          • Stacy Scott

            Ok so i tried exactly as descrided here, and ii still had no luck. if have a large stencil area where i am applying the glue and I applied layer dried with hair dyer, and even did a second layer to be sure. Dried that, dyed it microwaved it, and although it was lighter in parts than the surrounding area it was not white at all it was just 1/2 shade lighter. Maybe I can’t do what I envision with sharp edges. Because I tried wax as well and it runs.

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