Sgraffito is a fast batik technique in which positive marks are scratched into the surface of the wax and filled with ink. Use sgraffito in combination with other batik methods or make a speedy sgraffito batik like in the project below:
Begin by pinning out your fabric. Pre-washed, 100% cotton works best – we use Prima Cotton which is dye ready and doesn’t need washing.
Pinning the fabric onto a frame holds the fabric above the table, allowing the wax to dry without sticking.
Heat Batik Wax in a Tixor Wax Pot. It is important that the wax is hot enough to penetrate the fabric rather than sitting on the surface. We keep our pot on a 5 or 6 setting on the dial. If the wax starts to smoke, unplug immediately. Place a wide natural-fibre brush into the wax (synthetic fibres will melt). Once a brush has been used for wax it is very difficult to restore it for other uses – once a wax brush, always a wax brush! Leave the brush in the wax until completely soft.
Holding a piece of kitchen roll or rag in your other hand to catch the drips, lift the brush from the wax pot and begin to paint the wax onto the cloth. Frequently return the brush to the pot to recharge it with hot wax. If the wax starts to look pale on the cloth it is too cool.
This wax will act as a resist to the dye we will add later. Leave the wax for a minute or two to cool.
Unpin the fabric from the frame and place on the table. Use an Etching Needle to scratch marks into the wax.
These scratches will open up thin strips of fibres so that the dye can get in.
Mix a dye using 1tsp Procion MX dye to 50ml water. Mix a separate fixative chemical water using 100ml warm water, 1tsp urea and 1/2tsp soda ash (plus a pinch of Calgon if you live in a hard water area). It is good practice to wear a dust mask when working with these substances in powdered form. Pour a little of the chemical water into a pot. Add pipettes of the dye solution until it reaches your chosen strength, remembering that the colour will dry slightly lighter.
Use a stiff brush to paint the dye onto the waxed cloth. This dye will stain your clothes and hands so you may wish to wear gloves and an apron.
Work the dye into the lines using circular motions.
Remove excess dye with a piece of kitchen roll or rag. Add more dye to areas that are not showing clearly. You may wish to repeat the dyeing process on the back of the design too.
When the batik has dried, it’s time to remove the excess wax. Lay down a few layers of newspaper or newsprint on a padded surface. Place the batik on top and cover with a single layer of newspaper or newsprint.
Iron over the batik. A separate iron should be used for this process as wax residue may come off on other clothes. If the iron begins to smoke, unplug immediately and leave to cool down. The wax should instantly melt into the newspaper. Remove the waxy sheet and replace.
Continue to replace the sheets of newspaper on top and underneath until very little wax is appearing on the fresh paper.
To make your own sgraffito batik you will need: