I've had a lot of people ask me what Batik is - and how it's done.
So first : Batik is a wax resist dyeing technique in fabric. It is an ancient art form whose origin is mostly from around Indonesia and Malaysia. Mostly batik is used to make clothing fabric, with the use of repetitive patterns. Contemporary batik artists use the technique in a vast variety of ways.
In preparation of the exhibition in March, I decided to get an explanatory board of 'my' way done.
A small batik shown in all the steps :
1. Drawing and tracing onto the fabric. I use a ballpoint pen so that it doesn't wash out in the successive dyeing.
2. Painting on hot wax on the fabric to seal the colour - starting with the white. I actually have a pretty simple set-up : an electric hotplate, a small enamel pot, a mix of parrafin and bees wax, a variety of brushes (but I must admit that I almost exclusively use 2 favourites). My table is up against my bay-windows, and since I always work with the window open to minimise the wax smell in the house, I wear sweaters!!
How it works is that wherever the wax has seeped into the fabric, the dye will not penetrate. The beeswax 'holds' onto the fabric, and the paraffin allows it to crack, which is a characteristic of batiks.
You have to stretch the fabric in order to work properly (kind of like a stretched painting canvas); when it's a small piece I just stretch the part I'm working on between my fingers; for the larger batiks though, I stretch it on a soft wood frame (an old Ikea picture frame) wit thumb tacks, since I remove it off the frame for the dyeing.
3. Use of cold dyes to colour the fabric. This takes place in my kitchen, next to the sink. The newspaper is to protect the countertop, and also because I wipe off the excess dye once I take the fabric out of the dye bath.
4. After all the steps of dyeing and waxing; I iron out the batik, the heat melts the wax onto newspaper (I also use absorbant paper towels for greater efficiency).