Batik Style Beads

If you'd like a quick and easy way to design your own jewellery, why not have a go at dyeing beads in a batik style. Batik is a traditional method of decorating cloth using wax and dye. The principle is that the parts covered in wax resist the dye. This same resist method can be used to dye wooden beads. What's more, with the terrific range of coloured dyes now available you can dye your beads to suit many tastes, which is ideal for gift making for friends and family. Have fun!


Approximate Time: 40 minutes for a set of beads plus drying time


  • wooden beads in a variety of sizes - unpainted and unvarnished
  • Dylon's cold water dye
  • a plastic container for the dye bath
  • rubber gloves
  • wax crayons or oil pastels
  • a tablespoon
  • hot tap water
  • a length of silk, cotton, or suede cord


  1. Prepare the dye: wearing rubber gloves dissolve one tin of dye in 500ml/1 pint hottest tap water; stir well. You don't need to add salt or cold dye fix to a dye bath for use on wood.
  2. Use a wax crayon or oil pastel to draw patterns on a wooden bead. Make sure the wax layer is fairly thick.
  3. Using a spoon, lower the bead into the container of dye and leave for a minimum of 30 minutes. Lift the bead out with a spoon. Place it on a paper towel to dry. You will see the wax has 'resisted' the dye.
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  5. Repeat the above steps to design more beads. Let dry thoroughly. Thread your beads onto a length of cord to make a necklace, or create other items of jewellery, instead.

Crafty Tips:

  • Experiment with batik effects, apply more wax to a finished bead and dip into a different coloured dye bath.
  • For stronger colours, dissolve dye in 250ml/1/2 pint water and 250ml/1/2 pint methylated spirits.
  • Use the batik method to decorate other wooden items such as buttons, badges, and mini-shapes. Note: sand well down to bare wood prior to dyeing, to remove previous coatings.
  • You can store dye for up to one month in an airtight container.

By Anne Davies from United Kingdom


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