Tjaps (pronounced chops) are cool. They’re hand made in Indonesia from strips of copper. Tjaps are works of art themselves, truly unique. They have been used by Indonesians for centuries to make batik fabrics. I like to use them on paper!
It’s really easy and Oooh so much fun.
Why strips of copper? (As you know, copper is in short supply these days and has become quite expensive). Copper is great conductor of heat. So, when dipped into hot wax, the tjap stamp will stay hot and keep the wax usable. Yes, these stamps are part of the batik process – really cool tools that can also be used as part of your ‘batiking’ arsenal. I have quite the collection. I won’t show you today, but believe me, just a quick glance at my collection may cause ‘tjap jealousy’ or a sudden desire to add to your own collection. You will thank me later.
To make things even more interesting, there are two types of tjaps: Professional and Student Grade. The dragonfly is a student grade and those are actually used to teach how to do the technique. Professional grade tjaps have actually been used, sometimes for many years, to make the wonderful batik fabrics. Most of them are antiques and pricey, but oh so beautiful. Check out these photos (if you have a tendency towards tjap hoarding, skip down past the photos).
Anyway, here are two pieces that were done with the dragonfly tjap.
Now, here is something that you must have. This thing is called a tjanting (which is also pronounced chanting, or even canting.)
These nifty little things are used to draw with wax onto fabric (I use it on paper, of course). The little pot on the end of the wooden handle is metal, these days usually brass. If you see a copper one, buy it. Copper is just about extinct (which is why I’m hoarding tjap stamps. Just sayin’). Set the tjanting into the wax for a few minutes to let it warm the metal. Then dip the pot section to fill it with wax…pick it up…and draw with it…like you see this person doing. She doesn’t look like she’s a beginner, does she?
(If you haven’t read this blog for a couple of weeks and you’ve just dropped in, you may want to read June’s postings which describe the general batik process and will bring you up to speed.) CLICK HERE AND CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLES.
There are all sorts of tjanting tools. Some have tiny spouts, medium spouts and large spouts. The tiny and the large are the most difficult to use as a beginner. There are also tjantings with more than one spout! Hmmm…note to self: Start collection of tjantings.
You’ll be happy to know that tjantings are very inexpensive. They’re cheap. You can Google them and find them many places, but one that comes to mind is Dharma Trading Company.
Here’s a tip for using a tjanting: after I’ve dipped and filled the pot, I tip it back slightly to keep the wax from dripping or running out of the spout. Even so, some tjantings will still run, so I either put my finger over the spout (if it’s not too hot) or use a piece of cardboard till I’m at the spot where I want to begin to draw with it.
Back to tjaps. These things are SO cool. I think I’m repeating myself, but heck, they just are cool. I’ve been to Bali a couple of times and those Balinese make it look so easy! I returned home from Bali and was sure I could whip out something in short order. Had I taken notes? Had I taken any photos of their setup? No. My goose was cooked. I tried and tried and could not get a good print. I was ooberly frustrated. But I did not give up! Slowly I began to recall the details of what they did and guess what? I wrote them down and here they are, just for you!
Follow these 4 tips and you’ll be making a good prints one after the other.
- Put only a small amount of wax into the frying pan. USE NOT MORE THAN 1/4″; 1/8″ is even better.
- Place the tjap into the hot wax and let it warm up – perhaps five minutes.
- Make a padded surface to print on. I just use a bed of newspapers. I put several down, then lay my rice paper (or whatever you are using to print onto) on top of that. If you want to be sure it doesn’t stick to the newspaper, put a piece of waxed paper on top.
- Make a practice print before actually printing onto your good rice paper. Again, I have a piece of newspaper to the side so that I can do a practice print. If that print is really puddly, then too much wax – do yet another practice print. Get the idea?
With those hints, you should be successful right off. If you want some super-dooper help, my DVD – Using Tjaps and Basic Batik is available on the website. It is definitely a fantastic resource for those of you who want to get into this. It will show you all of the nuances (even my own mistakes. Yes, I do make them) of this interesting medium and 17 projects, including those above. And, as usual, I’m always here to answer questions and help with problems you might have.
SPEAKING OF HELP, here is a question that came into last week’s blog and I thought I would answer it here because this problem happens to a lot of students.
I was bopping right along, and I was excited to do the crinkling. Then I was dismayed that big patches of wax began falling off. I must have put too much on. So I panicked and picked several huge flakes off. Then I realized that wouldn’t work, so I pulled out my Old Milwaukee heat gun and began melting the remaining wax and spreading it with my brush. Then I wasn’t as aggressive with the crinkling and unfortunately I don’t think any paint went into a single crack! I am going to do it all again after you tell me what went wrong! If it indeed did go wrong.
First of all, let me say that you were very creative with that heat gun, Nancy! I wish I would’ve thought of that myself! It’s not a bad fix, actually.
But let’s get back to your original question about the wax falling off. One of the qualities of paraffin is that it cracks and, if you have a LOT on your piece it can flake off in chunks. If it does that, it means there is naked paper underneath, so do NOT put any dotting on those places. If you do, it will run in and make a big splotch…easy enough to fix…blot it off, then turn it over and blot from the back, too.
Anyway, do not worry about not getting into the cracks. If you reread the post about how to apply the spotting, you’ll notice that it’s not meant to really run into all of the cracks. Can it? Yes, that’s okay, too. BUT FOR OUR PURPOSES, I LIKE TO PLACE THE BEADS WHERE I WANT THEM.
See in last week’s photo how that final wash beads up on the paper? That is all you want. Those beads of color, that are then sealed in with wax, come off onto the paper when you iron. Get it? It is an easy way to obtain the texture you want without forcing into the cracks, which sometimes makes it look muddy.
While I enjoy the cracking on fabric batik, I prefer a much more refined, stylized look with my paper batik pieces. That is just my own feeling about it, so have you way with your own piece!
A SECOND QUESTION about which brushes I use for waxing those edges of the flowers from our project. I actually just use cheap, real-hair brushes. Real hair brushes (camel, squirrel…cheap) allow me to form a point or even a chisel-edge to do those tiny places. A small size, like a 4 perhaps will be small enough. Too small of a brush doesn’t pick up enough wax and you’ll find yourself frustrated because it cools before you can get over to use it.
Why don’t I use a tjanting? I prefer a brush because I have more control. I’m sure those smarty-pants Balinese do use a tjanting to perfection.
GUESS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT WEEK? Here’s a hint:
Next week, June 30th, is the last day for entries to win a spot in our Spain Journey Workshop next year. Give us a day to get everything together and for the computer to choose a winner.
So, TIPS will come out on WEDNESDAY NEXT WEEK WITH THE WINNER!
I am excited! I have no idea who it will be either and am really looking forward to finding out who it will be! GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF YOU and I’ll see you here next week.
I have 5 student grade tjaps – dragonfly, fish, turtle, sunflower, and butterfly which are fairly easy to use. I’m still learning how to use my professional grade tjaps. Will definitely look for copper tjanting tools. I use a paper towel to move from wax pot to project to keep drips from landing everywhere. Looking forward to our next get together. Visiting relatives in Columbus, Ohio this week. Will be in San Francisco for grandson’s 1st birthday and son’s 26th birthday in Spokane during HOOT or would see you there. Have fun! 🙂
Wave when you go by! I’ll be the one wearing the really cool sarong that someone painted for me.
I look forward to your Tuesday blog. You are so talented and make everything sound so interesting and fun! It makes me want to do it all, not that I can find any space for anything else. Thanks, Kathie. Have a great week.
I love doing your batik technque! How do I get the jdragonfly? It looks like s May fly which have recently hatched in lake Erie and the islands. What fabric is best, silk or cotton?
Celeste, you can usually get them on my website (am I out of stock right now?). If I’m out, I can notify you when I get another, just let me know your wishes. I use them on paper, but if you are doing traditional fabric batik, you can use either cotton (like a muslin) or silk. The very best authority on batik and all things fabric is Dharma Trading Company. Go to their website and they have tons of resources about ‘how-to’ as well as everything to purchase for FABRIC. If it’s paper you want, I should have it.
I was just looking at their catalog last night. I’m getting ready to do some silk scarves. It’s summer, so doesn’t that sound like a nice summer project? Batik on silk – yes!
Hi Kathie, How do you get all the wax out of the Tjap when you are done using it? I have a couple of them and want to try them again. If working with silk, what painting medium do you use? Do you follow the same steps as with the paper, taking wax off between newspapers? I really enjoy and look forward to your Tuesday Tips every week. You INSPIRE me!!!
You don’t have to remove the wax from the tjaps. Just turn them on end and it runs off…..they are self-cleaning, so to speak. ha!
As for using them with silk, there’s a good answer below from Karen Lyons who paints on silk a lot. Go to Dharma for a lot of info. And, who knows, perhaps I’ll do one on the blog. Thanks for the idea.
I want one of those dragonflies!! I will be checking out your online supply.
Thanks for sharing!
I want one of those dragonfly tjaps! I will be checking out your online supply.
Thanks for sharing!
Paige, I will have an order coming about another month or so. The Indonesians are on their own time line……..s l o w. But they do excellent work, so who cares. I will try to send out an announcement on my newsletter when they arrive. By the way, I’m getting some NEW designs, too.
Thanks. I will watch for them.
Looking forward to seeing your scarves. To answer Kathy Hair’s question: I use both Dye-na-Flow fabric paint and Jacquard green label (set with iron) or red label set with steam. Dharma has a multitude of directions and featured artists. Great place to get supplies and help!
Sorry about getting Kathy’s last name wrong. Need to proofread better before hitting POST COMMENT.
Thank you so much for addressing my issue from last week, Kathie. I am prepared to go forth once more and do my second attempt at watercolor batik! I can’t wait to be in a class under your instruction! I am now going to search the web for a tjanting…it is never too soon to learn to use a tool I may wish I had learned up front in the art of batik. Let us know when you have the tjaps back in stock!
I love your Tuesday Tips. The Tjaps are wonderful just like so many things you’ve introduces us to. I was just looking at the video clip you have about the gel mediums and mixed medium projects you have. I love mixed medium and particularly textures and high contrast. I am not a beginner painter, but I would be a beginner using these particular gels. Do you think, based on what I’ve said, that I could be successful at an intermediate project?
Heck yes, Marie. Go for it!
Kathie, I have one Tjaps (it’s flowers) that I found at an antique shop some time ago, but haven’t tried it yet. I love the dragonfly and I really appreciate you showing the finished results. I’m going to get mine out and give it a try. Thanks for your continued tips and ideas, it encourages me to try new things.
tjanting – looks very much like a kistka that is used in making Ukrainian eggs. It is the same concept but it is done on eggs. They have electrics kistkas now – it’s kinda cheating but it makes the process go so much faster and you don’t have the blobs of wax. Maybe someone will come up with an electric tjanting.
I always look forward to Tuesday when your email pops up. Thanks for doing this!!!
Guess what? There ARE electric tjantings! Personally, I don’t like that cord dangling and prefer to just dip and go, but each to their own. If you have done Ukranian eggs, then you will be a natural!
Hi Kathie! Enjoying your postings on the batik process and our Watercolor Society library has your video and I really enjoyed it. I have 2 professional tjaps and noticed when I used them the first time, they really smoked and stunk! Any ideas for removing that residue, if that is what was causing the smoke and smell? Thanks for any advice.
I would love to have the dragonfly Tjaps and what is the size of the turtle & fish?
Thank you for all of the info about batiks. I love doing your batiks. I have been wanting to try it on fabric. I have a tjap that we got from Indonesia many years ago. I have tried it on the paper but now I will try it on fabric. I also have used tjantings but now I have an idea how to control them better. Thanks for the tips. I love your Tuesday Tips!!!
Thanks BJ. Comments like that keep me going.