Batik Made Easy: Hot Tips from Kathy York

I like to think I'm always open to trying new things, especially when it comes to surface design methods. But there was one technique I shied away from: batik. I loved the effects, but doing it myself always seemed so complicated and time consuming.

That was until Kathy York was a guest on "Quilting Arts TV" in Season 3 and demonstrated her easy and fun technique for creating batik patterns with found objects.

I had thought you needed special printing tools or good freehand painting skills to make your wax designs, but Kathy showed up with cardboard tubes, cookie cutters, and plastic-coated electrical wires. What? I was intrigued.

Here are some of Kathy's tips for making batik patterns with found objects:

  • Anything that won't melt and has an intriguing edge shape can make a batik design. Consider cardboard tubes, hardware (like bolts), cookie cutters, and napkin rings.
  • If a found object is too short to dip into the wax without burning your fingers, use a pair of metal pliers or grips to act as a handle.
  • Peel the coating off the end of cast-off electrical wires and bend the wire into a shape (spiral, flower, etc.). Then bend the rest of the wire up 90 degrees to use as a handle. (Sort of like an Easter egg dipper. In fact, you could use an Easter egg dipper as a stamp!) Dip the shape in the wax and apply it to the fabric.
  • Have a piece of spare cardboard handy to catch drips between the wax bath and the fabric.
  • In order for the wax to penetrate the fabric without ruining your work surface, suspend the piece of fabric you're working with (or a portion of it) over the top of an open cardboard box, secured with thumbtacks.
  • If you prefer a smooth, rather than crackled, effect, use a 1:1 ratio of paraffin to beeswax.
  • Once you use an object or pot for the batik process, do not use it again for other purposes, such as food prep. Work in a well-ventilated area and take precautions to avoid being burned by the hot wax or tools.

It was so much fun stamping the fabric and looking at the dyed samples Kathy brought with her. It's hard to make a "mistake." If you get a result you don't like, just over-dye it! To get the full effect of the results and see all her of Kathy's tips, be sure to watch Season 3 of "QATV."

(By the way, if you want to explore stamping with found objects and paint, instead of wax, take Belinda Spiwak's Found Object Stamping/ Printing Challenge posted on the Quilting Arts Community.)

Kathy is known for her bold, bright quilts with complex designs. But when you break them down, you realize she just makes the most of simple techniques. It's an eye-opening discovery.

In the February/March issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, now available, Kathy shows how to enrich your quilts with simple satin stitching. She addresses how stabilizing, thread, needle size, and tension all play a role in achieving perfect satin stitching and explains how to stitch around curves and join blocks. If you've ignored your satin stitch lately, Kathy's tutorial will have you grabbing your threads and a quilt sandwich to give it a whirl again.

P.S. Want to add color to your quilts with thread? Download a FREE PATTERN for the Crayon Quilt Thread Sketching Design by Susan Brubaker Knapp, featured in the February/March issue of Quilting Arts.

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Fabric Painting & Dyeing, Quilting Daily Blog