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Deep Fat Fryer, Beeswax, and Silk

One of the side benefits to having bees is access to beeswax. After processing the annual crop of honey, there is beeswax. We have tried several methods of rendering the wax ranging from a cute little crockpot with cloth filters over bubbling water to a large pan in the oven.

Regardless of method, we have rounds of wax ready to coat foundation or string to insert into an empty frame for comb honey. But there is plenty left and I had always wanted to do some batiking.

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to buy three tjaps that were being discarded–I’m not sure exactly why but I was pleased to get them. I used one as a resist for Shiva PaintSticks but mostly they sit on my shelves as a decorative item.

Saturday, I decided to take the plunge—melt the wax and give those tjaps a trial.

It didn’t take long to melt the wax. I worked outdoors on a table constructed of a piece of siding and two saw-horses (unfortunately not quite the same height). I also have some potato mashers. I had done a bit of batik in the past and had learned the metal needed to be heated before using.

The large handle on the tjap surprisingly did not get very hot–slightly warmish but definitely not too hot to handle. I also learned it would soak up a lot of wax making for three or four impressions with each subsequent impression being more refined.

The fabric–cotton, two kinds of silk, and a hemp/cotton blend has now all been waxed and awaits the next application of dye—I just have to get some more dye buckets as mine seem to have disappeared.

melting beeswax for batik
potato masher in the wax with tjap on the side
Tjap for batik and a small piece of raw silk
yardages batiked and ready to redye
here you can see the fabric hanging from the railing of the deck
closeup of the batiked fabric
here is a closeup of one of the fabrics. I had previously dyed it using my sand and ice dyeing technique

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Linda W Miles #


    October 6, 2020
    • It was a fun adventure and not nearly as hard as I had made it up to be in my mind. Melting the wax took less time than I thought–and with that deep fat fryer with the thermostat was a breeze. I worked outside so no fumes inside or danger of burning down the building; the hardest part was quitting because I had no more fabric prepared. I did learn that those tjsps contained a lot more wax than my potato mashers–and I should probably have blotted some of the wax off on some paper first; it then made four really good impressions through a double layer of cotton fabric. Tomorrow i’ll do the over-dye, let it sit overnight and then begin to process out the wax. It would be easy to do yards and yards.

      October 6, 2020

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