Paintstik Rubbings using Vintage Tjaps

Paintstik Rubbing Art Quilt by Judy Gula

View larger image of above quilt. Note: this tutorial post updated September 5, 2018

Paintstiks are the perfect product to use for creating rubbings from Vintage Indonesian Tjaps. Tjaps, both new and the antiques I’m featuring here, are batik tools that are handcrafted from narrow strips of copper and copper wire that are used to stamp wax patterns into fabric. Tjaps are works of art on their own; while they can still be used to create batik fabric, many people simply display them to admire.

After several attempts on my own at using my tjaps to batik in the traditional method, I now prefer to buy my batiks! Instead, I use my tjaps as rubbing plates…I’m still creating beautiful fabric and using it in my quilts. I’ve previously blogged about this technique and I’m doing so again, as it’s such a favorite of mine!

vintage tjaps, Shiva Paintstiks and 505 Spray and Fix

To follow along with my tutorial, you need the following

Artist’s Paintstiks are an oil-based fabric paint in a solid crayon form. They arrive sealed and after use will selfseal — creating a thick and firm skin on the surface, which prevents the Paintstik from drying out and becoming unusable. The skin can be twisted off the tip with a paper towel or using a paring knife, but once I finally found out about using a potato peeler, it’s now my favorite method. It allows you to peel the coating off with minimal waste while creating a wide surface to use while rubbing.

Preparing the Paintstik for use in a rubbing using a potato peeler

When I am creating a rubbing, I only peel the cover off the one side that I will use. While they are terrific for other uses, I no longer try to use the mini Paintstiks for tjap rubbings: they don’t give me enough surface to hold onto or paint with. I prepare all the colors I plan to use first, and then wipe my hands with a baby wipe to remove the wayward paint before I begin handling the fabric.

In the past I have tried to create a rubbing without using a temporary adhesive, because I was worried that it would hurt the tjap. Not true, as I found when I finally experimented after some less than crisp results. I find that spraying the fabric with 505 Spray and Fix means my fabric will not slide and allows me to create a crisp and clear rubbing.

Applying 505 Spray and Fix to the fabric and placing it on the tjap

After spraying 505 — again, on the fabric, not on the tjap — I place the fabric sticky side down atop the tjap and gently smooth it out.

Beginning the tjap rubbing with Paintstik

I begin rubbing gently with the full side of the Paintstik. You only need a very little pressure when you are rubbing. You will see that it’s easy to feel the edges of the vintage tjap. My own experience has been that the Vintage/Traditional Tjaps, which feature a lot of intricate details create a much more interesting rubbing than some of the new tjaps.

Paintstik rubbing in process

Once you have completed your rubbing, allow the Paintstiks to fully dry on the fabric. Shelly Stokes of Cedar Canyon Textiles, a Paintstik expert, writes that “Rubbings (and any direct application technique) take longer to dry. Allow 3-5 days for the paint to dry. I allow 7 days if I make several layers of rubbings — or during humid times of the year. Test the paint by rubbing your finger over a section of paint. If you see paint on your finger, it’s not dry yet. Set the fabric aside for another day. Once you no longer pick paint up with your finger, it’s ready to heat set.”

Shiva Paintstik color is permanent on fabric and washable once it has been heat-set with an iron, so if you choose you can incorporate a fabric rubbing into a garment or tablecloth. (Note that because of the oil composition of the paint, note that fabric can’t be dry-cleaned.) While it’s not necessary to heat set your fabric rubbing for an art quilt that won’t be laundered, it doesn’t hurt to do so, and it’s a quick process.

Tjap used for rubbing, right, and Paintstik rubbing

Above is the finished Paintstik rubbing and the vintage tjap together pictured together. Pretty cool, huh? (The tjap looks slightly larger than the rubbing because it is resting flat on its handle and thus is a couple inches closer to the camera.)

Paintstik rubbing with tjap used

The above sample, pictured with the vintage tjap used, was created with two Paintstik colors on a light batik fabric. It’s a pretty illustration that the fabric doesn’t have to be black for the rubbing to pop.

The piece featured at the top of the posting (click here for a larger view) resulted from a demo at a show. I used many different vintage tjaps to create a garden.

Stewart Gill textile paint highlights Judy Gula's flower garden rubbings

After the Paintstik rubbings had dried, I painted the background with textile paint — see detail above. The paint I used was water-based, and since oil and water don’t mix, the paint accents I added did not hide any of the rubbing.

I thread painted the rubbings (detail above) with what was then a favorite variegated thread. This further embellished the colors. Now that Artistic Artifacts sells WonderFil Specialty Threads I have even more beautiful thread options to explore!

To finish off the quilt, I added an inner red mini piping using the Groovin’ Piping Trimming Tool by Susan K. Cleveland (previously reviewed in this posting. My center panel is bordered with some of our beautiful Aborigine design fabric: Landscape Red by Stephen Pitjara. The outer binding was created with Bush Yam X2 Red by Jeannie Pitjara (updated 9/5/18: these fabrics have been discontinued).

I hope I’ve encouraged you to give Paintstik rubbing a try — it is an easy and satisfying method of surface design!

9 Comments to “Paintstik Rubbings using Vintage Tjaps”

    • Judy

      Hi Bev, it’s really the same process and technique…just that the paper you work with has to be thin and soft — yet strong — in order to have the “give” so that you are catching the edges of the tjap without a tear or noticeable crease. While the stiffness and weight of a cardstock probably wouldn’t work to start, you could mount a rubbing made on a pliable handmade paper (for example) onto a card base with Mistyfuse or glue/matte medium to finish the card off. I would definitely encourage you to experiment!

  1. Dorothy

    I tried the techniques you described and plan to do more. Sometimes, I get little blobs of paint. What do you think may cause this? Thanks.

    • Judy

      Dorothy sorry for the slow reply. I get bits of paint that have dried on my paintstik and transfer to my work. I can sometimes get them off with masking tape. try that and let me know how it works

  2. pat miodonski

    HI, Can these Tjaps be used on felted roving somehow? Also can you define what you mean by vintage Tjaps. I know what vintage means, but not when referenced with Tjaps. Also, besides using Tjaps with mistyfuse., what other soft paper can I use? How about soft paper stablizers. Does the paper have to have some kind of give so the imprint of the Tjap show? I regulariy get Artisisticartfacts email, but have never seen the technique you haved demonstrated. Have you published any books on this technique or give online classes. Is there anyother kind of crayon or medium I can use on Tjaps. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Sincerely, Pat Miodonski May 27, 2015 7PM.

    • Judy

      Pat you do not want to get tjaps wet. You can’t use them to felt wool. They are copper and designed to use to print with wax. As an embossing tool, you could try on felted DRY fabric. Usually Embossing is used with Velvet. I have not actually done that have only seen the results. Use Tjaps with misty fuse? did I say that? Soft Paper is usually a hand made paper, rice paper… you will have to experiment. We have used them with Staz on Ink which is alcohol ink and will evaporate quickly to stamp on paper. When we use the term “vintage” we do not know the age of the tjap, but they have been retired from the Batik Industry.
      other mediums instead of paintstiks, I think crayons would actually work, maybe gelatos. My blog is actually the best documentation I have for the technique-
      hope this helps. Judy Gula

  3. Pingback: Paintstik Rubbings Using Vintage Indonesian Tjaps - Cedar Canyon TextilesCedar Canyon Textiles

  4. Victoria Valentine

    Good Afternoon,
    I just recently ran across some of these textile stamps and purchased about 25 of them. I love them. would love to learn to use them to stamp pillowcases and etc. Mine are a little different than yours, mine have the design done in copper wire, but the wire is embedded in a wooden block with no opening around the design. I had read an article about the one that are carved in wood and that you can use fabric paint and a brayer to transfer the design. But an confused as to how to work with the ones that I have. I read your tutorial and am confused by this comment ” I no longer try to use the mini Paintstiks for tjap rubbings: they don’t give me enough surface to hold onto or paint with”.
    Would appreciate your could provide, I loves these and truly want to know how to use them. Will be delighted to reimburse you for instructions in techniques and etc.
    Thank you advance,

    • Judy

      Victoria, the with the copper you would not want to use paint. using the instructions of wooden block printing replace the paint with try a Staz-on Ink pad as the medium to stamp with.
      In referenced to the Paintstiks – they come in a short stub form 2″ and a longer crayon 5″ length. I use the longer length because I can hold onto it.
      would love to see a photo of your stamps- they sound interesting. [email protected] hope this helps Judy


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.