Batik is an art form which involves decorating cloth using wax and dye. The island of in Indonesia is famous for its tradition of using batik to decorate cloth in this way and the local people have done much for the development of this technique over time. Batik designs on ceremonial clothing would indicate a person’s rank or wealth, with some patterns only allowed to be worn by royalty. The colours used in traditional Javanese batik were a nod towards their religion with Indigo, brown and white representing the three major Hindu Gods. The exact meaning of the word ‘batik’ is unclear but it is generally accepted that it means to ‘dot’ or ‘write.
The basic technique of batik is to take a piece of cloth and draw or block out designs on it using hot wax. The wax can either be dropped or rubbed on to the cloth before it is dyed. The parts of the cloth covered in wax resist the dye and therefore create a coloured pattern when the wax is removed. The process can be repeated over and over again to create intricate layers of beautiful colour!
Fabric – Natural materials such as cotton, silk and linen work best for batik.
Wax – Beeswax is the most popular type of wax used for batik as it is less likely to crack than other types. Paraffin wax is often recommended for beginners as it is incredibly easy to use.
Frames – You will need to attach your fabric to a softwood frame in order to start your batik process.
Canting (tjantings) – A canting can be used for those who want to try a more traditional batik method. It is essentially a pen which is filled with hot wax and used to draw lines or dots on fabric.
Brushes – Stiff bristle brushes are best for batik and should be bought in a range of sizes to achieve different types of lines and patterns.
Container – A large flat container can be used as a dye bath.
Dye – Cold water dyes in a range of colours.
Check out the video below for an introduction to batik technique.
Uses of batik fabric:
Batick fabric can be used for clothing, furnishings or simply as home decor.
You can find out more from the batik guild: http://www.batikguild.org.uk/