“Batik” is a term that has its origins in Indonesia. It may have been derived from a word called ‘ambatik’ that translates into “a dotted piece of cloth”.
Batik is commonly used to describe a fabric dyeing process that utilizes a special resist method. In this technique, selected cloth areas are covered with a dye-proof substance as it helps prevent absorption of colours.
The Batik dyeing technique involves blocking certain areas of the fabric by brushing them with hot wax. This is followed by the actual dyeing of the cloth. The parts that remain covered with the hot wax continue to retain their original colour while the remaining cloth acquires the chosen colour of dye. The repeated wax application and dyeing ultimately leads to the creation of beautiful and vibrant designs on the cloth. When the dyeing process is finally over, the artist removes the wax and the fabric is ready to use. The fabric used in batik is first washed and then boiled in plain water. This is done several times before the wax blend is applied as it helps remove any traces of lime, starch and chalk.
A Batik artist may use a variety of different wax and dyes on silk, cotton and other pure fabrics. Batik typically works really well on cotton fabrics. Silk, on the other hand, is a little difficult to handle because of its peculiar wicking properties. The motifs/patterns used in Batik are usually geometric or inspired from all kinds of natural objects.
The Batik technique is unique because some wax blends have a tendency to “crackle” during the handling process and this allows dark dye lines to enter/penetrate the resisted spaces.