Once a pastime of Indonesian court ladies, traditional batik can be a laborious craft: A single yard of the most sumptuous Javanese pattern might take up to a year to produce, as the fabric is successively rewaxed and dyed. But with our quick method, using kitchen tools and other household items as wax stamps, you'll be able to make a collection of bright bandannas in just a few hours or decorate a set of summer table linens in a day or two.
Batik means "wax writing." Handkerchiefs, cloth napkins, and roughcut cotton squares are patterned with waxed imprints of household objects; the shapes remain white where the wax resists dye. Cotton and linen are good candidates; synthetics might not accept the dye. Of the samples shown, only the gingham pieces needed to be dyed more than once.