Friday, September 16, 2016

Batik Process with a Tjap

Tool or Piece of Art?

This is a professional batik cap or tjap--pronounced 'chop'. Lunn Fabrics advertised a large shipment recently, and I had already been eyeing up the samples when I first saw the shop. There were so many enticing pieces to pick from, but I actually let my husband help pick it out. It fell between my love of busy, and his of simplified. 

Looking from above, you can see the structural details. This piece is around 7.5" square. They are precisely constructed by hand to a designer's specification. When you lift the copper piece, you are surprised to feel the actual weight.

From the side view, you get a better idea.

The idea of finally having a tjap available to try meant there was an urgency to my project. I might have thought this out better, but I was a kid with a new toy. I have a small stash of Kona presoaked with soda ash for cases such as this, and I quickly set up shop. A fleece backed plastic table cloth protected the table, and I weighted the fabric with yogurt containers filled with water. 

I use an electric skillet for melting my wax mixture, and never leave its side. Working with plenty of air exchange in my space, I first experimented on scrap paper. I had such a problem with too much wax transferring, and continued to empty the skillet until there was just a thin layer to dip the tjap. Much better, but not perfect. Some areas were too heavy, some too light, and a few were more or less okay. It was a first, and more about experimenting with process than perfection.

It was a cooler day, and I let the wax harden outside.

This is a concentrated Procion MX dye I mixed, and using both a sea sponge and a brush added to the waxed cloth that had been lightly spritzed with water. Where areas felt too dark, I spritzed more water.

The piece needed to process about a day for the dye to bond with the fabric. I simply burrito wrapped the fabric in the plastic table cloth, and tried to forget it. You can get a better idea of the over and under waxed areas with the contrast showing here.

The Lab Report

Lunn Fabrics has a lovely page documenting the batik process HERE. Their line, Artisan Batiks, are produced for Robert Kauffman Fabrics, and available in their store along with your local quilt stores. The assortment of copper tjaps are also listed through the link.


I will not be overly critical of my work because this was both a spontaneous and fun first time. I encountered a lot of hurdles, and I have some information on how to remedy many of those problems the next time around. Using a tjap has a steep learning curve, and the artisans make it look effortless. Don't be fooled. They're skilled experts!

I'm looking forward to rinsing this out later today, and perhaps trying a second round, if time permits. I can't wait to share this finished cloth with you next time!

Linking up with~


  1. Thanks for sharing, Julie..this is really cool! I didn't know how the process worked, and now I do. I think your sample is really cool and can see why you were excited to play with the new tool! The variation lets you know it's hand made, which I think is great.

  2. That is a beautiful motif and love how it came out on the fabric.

  3. I bought a couple of tjaps and they came with a different way to print with them. You stretch your fabric over the design side of the tjap and secure it on the back. Then use fabric crayons and rub lightly over the design to print the design. Don't know how well it will work, but it might be worth trying if you only wanted a few motifs.

  4. Wow! What a great pattern and such a fascinating process!

  5. Very interesting. Thanks for telling us how your did it!

  6. I love how your Batik fabric came out! It looks wonderful! I used to do Batik by hand but I never had one of those tjaps. It looks like a lot of fun. I'm considering getting a tjap and trying it out. Thanks for the idea and the link.

  7. I just visited their website and they have the most gorgeous fabrics! I have never seen such a fantastic collection of batiks in every shade and print imaginable! I am really impressed.

    1. I completely agree! They carry a whole store full of batiks, and it's positively incredible. If you ever get to the area, it's not to be missed.

  8. That's a huge step in the professional direction, Julie)) I love the pattern, though the high contrast in your fabric at this stage makes all the little glitches very visible. What about overdoing it all with some yellow or orange or light brown to leave just a hint of the pattern?

  9. I love this Julie. You could as previously suggested overdye the fabric.

  10. oh thank you for all the wonderful information.

  11. I've used previously dyed fabric, then waxed, then overdyed with some good results. You are right, though, that too much wax is the main problem to overcome!

  12. Love how the fabric turned out! Very pretty ♥

  13. How cool!!! I'm now headed down the internet rabbit hole of how to batik... :)

  14. It looks like so much work! I'm impressed you keep with it.