Melting wax for tjantings
Batik is a technique for the surface decoration of cloth in which multiple resist dyeings using wax patterns to block dye is the principal design device. Once the fabric is painted with wax designs, it is placed in a dye bath where only the areas with no wax are dyed. Batik designs build backwards and this takes a little getting used to. The design you draw with the wax is what does not turn into the next color.
Beeswax is soft, pliable, and blocks completely: no cracking.
Paraffin is more brittle, and lets dye penetrate wherever cracks form.
Melt your batik wax. Batik wax comes in a brick that needs to be melted in either an electric wax pot or double boiler.
Use caution with hot wax. Do not heat it above (240 degrees F) as it could begin to emit fumes or even catch fire.
It is not recommended that you heat wax on the stove top. Wax pots and double boilers heat the wax slowly and at a lower heat.
Prepare your wax using 2 parts beeswax + 1 part paraffin (use more beeswax if you want defined lines; use more paraffin if you want an imperfect, crackled look). Pure beeswax melts at a lower temperature (120 degrees F) than paraffin (145 degrees F), which in turns melts at a lower temperature than microcrystalline (sticky) wax, a synthetic substitute for beeswax (which melts about 175 degrees F). Melting may be less of a problem if you avoid the synthetics and use mostly beeswax. Of course, beeswax is more expensive than the alternatives. Pure beeswax or its substitutes are used when no “crackle” effect is desired; they are mixed with paraffin when crackle is desired.
Apply the wax with your Tjanting tool. To use the Tjanting tool, either dip it into the wax to fill the tool or spoon the wax in, then immediately apply to your fabric. Work quickly to prevent the wax from hardening in your tool. Or, you can use a thin paint brush or stamping tools. You must do the waxing of the fabric on the same table as and right next to the wax-melting skillet, as the tjanting with wax in it cools quickly!