Batik Leather Wallet – Decorating Leather With The Batik Technique

batik leather wallet

I love decorating leather. This batik leather wallet is the result of my recent discovery that leather can be decorated using the batik technique.

I was inspired by photographs in a leathercraft book from the 70s where someone applied paint to leather with the batik technique, when I saw the photos (black and white, unfortunately) I just had to try it out.

I experimented with different designs and colour combinations using up all my leather scraps in the process (and a lot of dye) until I had a surface I liked and which I stitched into this wallet.

batik wallet open

Batik is an ancient craft that uses wax and dye. Wherever wax is applied the dye cannot penetrate. Wax is added to the leather in a certain pattern and dye is painted over the entire surface.

The procedure for applying the batik technique onto the leather is the same that you would use for fabric, dyeing the surface first with lighter and then with darker colours. I used different sizes of stiff paint brushes to apply the melted wax between layers of dye. Only water-based leather dyes will work on leather.

To remove the wax I placed the leather under a thick layer of newspaper sheets and melted it with a medium-hot iron (very important, a too-hot iron will burn the leather). The wax will be absorbed by the newspaper.

batik wallet open outside

It is best to use a  wax melting pot to maintain the wax at the right temperature during the batik session.

I wrote a tutorial on making a batik leather wallet with a different shape, you find it here.

The book from the 70s is called Leather as Art and Craft. It describes lots of interesting leather craft techniques and shows the work of leather artisans from that time.

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