Make It Happen: Dutch Wax DIY

March 16, 2015


Kayte, our Visual Communication Manager, is something of an expert when it comes to paper crafting. So, naturally, she was the only person we thought of when it came time to create this cheery, colorful DIY. Take it away, Kayte!Our favorite DIY inspirations often come from global traditions, Dutch wax fabric being a beautiful case-in-point. With its origins in Javanese batiks and ties to Dutch printing techniques, Dutch wax is beloved in Western Africaand by print-mixing enthusiasts far and widefor its audacious colors and bold prints. Though the process of making traditional Dutch wax is laborious, you can pay homage to the plucky patterns with a simple block-printing technique that works on both cloth and paper. And fear not, crafting novices: Dutch wax aficionados admire each bolt of fabric for its unique splatters and spots, so there’s no such thing as a mistake!


WHAT YOU’LL NEEDLinoleum block cutter

Linoleum blocks

Craft knife



Assorted colors of block printing ink (the bolder, the better!)


Glass plate

Paper or fabric

Note: If you are printing on fabric and want to be able to wash it, you must use fabric printing ink and heat set the design with an iron. Follow the instructions on the ink for full details.


HOW TO MAKE IT With a craft knife and ruler, cut linoleum blocks in 3″, 2″ and 1″ squares. Using our photos as a guide (or creating your own patterns), draw a shape on each block with a pencil. Each of these blocks will be one part of the pattern; create slightly different versions of the same shape to layer on top of each other. Stick to simple geometric shapes for best results.Using the linoleum cutters, carefully carve away the area around the shape you’ve drawn. The shape that remains is what you’ll use to print.


Lay out your paper or fabric on a flat, clean surface.Squeeze some ink onto the glass plate. Use the brayer to roll out the ink until it evenly covers the surface of the platethis helps to evenly cover the brayer in ink. Then use the brayer to roll ink over the carved side of your first block.Place the inked block on the paper or fabric and press evenly to imprint.


Repeat the previous two as many times as you desire to get the first layer of the pattern. Let the paper or fabric dry completely before repeating the process with the next block. The brayer, glass plate and linoleum blocks wash easily with soap and water in between colors.

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