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Sunday, May 31, 2009

How To Make Sadza Batik - A tutorial

Here are some simple instructions for the sadza batik technique. Let us know how your project goes:
A. History of Sadza BatikSo far we have been unable to find information on the evolution of sadza batik in Zimbabwe. Having lived in Zimbabwe all our lives, we venture to guess that this is a technique introduced to us by non-profit organizations set up to help women with income generating projects. The batik technique itself originated in Java, Indonesia and through globalization, it has metamorphasized into the sadza batik we know today. The designs though, are authentically Zimbabwean – from the geometric patterns of the Great Zimbabwe, to the animals found in our wildlife. Batik is also taught in schools with art classes as well as some vocational colleges.
The purpose of this tutorial is to introduce you to the way batiks are made by the women of Zimbabwe. We hope you will support their trade through

What is sadza?Sadza is the Shona language name for cooked cornmeal (also known as ground maize) that is the staple food in Zimbabwe. The most common grain used is white corn, although sometimes, yellow corn is also consumed. While corn is not indigenous to Zimbabwe is has become our daily staple like tofu to the Japanese, potatoes to the Irish, or rice to the Chinese. Our ancestors used to eat ground millet, sorghum and other nutritious grains instead of corn. Ironically, these indigenous grains are now being sold in organic food stores in developed countries because research has proved they are an excellent source of nutrients to the diet.

Sadza can be eaten in two forms:
a) As a porridge – cooked similarly to grits (see below)
b) As a soft dough which is rolled into a ball and eaten by hand with meat & vegetables.
Sadza batiks use sadza porridge to substitute expensive waxes.

The instructions for making the porridge are as follows:2 cups of water½ a cop of white cornmealCombine the ½ a cup of the cornmeal with ½ a cup of cold water in a pot. Boil the remaining water separately then add to the cornmeal mixture while stirring continuously.Add pot to stove at a medium heat temperature and continue to stir until mixture beings to thicken and simmer/boil. Cover pot with lid and allow to continue boiling until the porridge is cooked – about 10 minutes.

B. Sadza batik-making InstructionsMaterials needed:
- Plain cotton fabric of your desired size
- Sadza porridge (see cooking instructions)
- A simple design of your choice
- A selection of fabric paints
- Sipple brush (optional)
- Craft size paint brushes
- A bucket or basin

- Wash the cotton to remove any starch that might be on it. If you want your fabric to have a base color, dye it with your color choice and follow the instructions by your dye manufacturer.

- Let the fabric dry then iron it flat.
- Draw your creative design onto the fabric with a pencil. If this is your first time, use simple patterns to practice. You can always make your designs more complex as you get more experience.
- Decide which areas are going to remain white (or base colored) and apply warm porridge onto them like so:

- Make sure you apply a thick layer of the cornmeal to make it easier to remove once it has dried.

- Your fabric should now be quite heavy with all the different layers of sadza porridge on it. Allow it to dry completely. In Zimbabwe, due to the plentiful sunshine, the fabrics are left to dry naturally in the sun until they look wrinkly like this:

Next steps:
- Use a paintbrush to add your colors to the fabric – this should be added the area outside of the dry porridge. If you want a crackled effect with your chosen paint/dye color, simply paint over your desired cracked sadza area. Make sure the sadza remains adhered to the fabric & does not crack too much.
o Cover it in tin foil and put it in the oven (at the oven warmer level, which is the lowest level possible) for 15 to 20 minutes. The tin foil will protect the fabric and prevent it from catching fire. Do not leave the stove unattended for safety reasons.
o Use an iron to seal in the dye or paint. Since the sadza is still adhered at this point, put an unwanted sheet of cotton fabric between the iron and the batik prior to ironing. This will prevent the iron from burning the batik.

- This tutorial is limited to one paint layer per fabric sheet, however if you wish to add more colors, simply repeat steps three and four. i.e. allow the paint to dry completely; cover the painted are with more porridge; allow it to dry until it curls, paint on those areas when the fabric is dry then dye the next dark color. Black will be the last color to dye if it is included on the design. It’s very important that you leave the fabric in the dye long enough.
Lastly, remove all the sadza and iron the fabric once more to seal in the colors. You can then use your fabric to make wall hangings, bags, etc...

There are other kinds of batik techniques, but this is one of the simplest. We’d love to share your batiks on our blog, so please e-mail them to us at