"Welcome to the ramblings of another artist's adventures."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Batik, what is it?

My project lately is creating batik scarves. I've had several people ask me, "What is Batik?"  Tik-Indonesian word meaning marked with dots.... or a patterned cloth.
-A process that dates back nearly 2000 years, originally from Java, later Indonesia, and China as early as 500AD.  It wasn't until the17th century when the Dutch began trading with Colonized Java that batik fabrics started showing up in Europe and much much later America.  It started as a means of decorating fabrics worn as sarongs for religious purposes.  The Chinese worked mainly on silk and the Indonesians worked with cotton. 
It wasn't until the 1960's and 70's that it became more popular as an art form besides only creating decorative fabrics.  It was a traditional textile method,  eventually over taken by silk screening because designs could be produced and reproduced  much faster.

In Batik layers of wax and dye are used to create the designs.  Some ways that the heated wax can be applied are by tjanting tools, brushes, or stamps.  The design usually starts on a blank 'canvas', some type of white fabric. Natural fabrics take the dyes much better.  The layers start from light to dark, each time adding more wax and more dye. Where ever the wax is applied, that color remains.  In the end the whole object is coated in wax.  The wax is then removed by ironing, boiling in some cases, even dry cleaning.
Here is an example of a work in progress, working light to dark.  It is really fun seeing how the colors react and change throughout the whole project.  One of may favorite aspects. I love it!  It is a time consuming process, but with great results.  I first learned batik at Texas Tech from Betty Street. There are also several books available on batik and dyeing...Try it.  It's a lot of fun.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I always knew batik involved wax and dye but that is all. I like knowing more about the technique you used to create my beautiful scarf!

    1. Glad it was helpful. I'm happy that you are enjoying your scarf.