Batik, or wax-resist fabric dyeing, is one of the world’s oldest art forms. The technique has been used in the Far East, Middle East, Central Asia and India for over 2000 years.
To create batik fabrics, melted wax (usually a combination of beeswax and paraffin) is applied to fabric in a specific design or pattern. When the wax is dry, the fabric is dipped into dye, and the waxed areas of the fabric are protected from the dye – leaving a design when the wax is removed. Often, multiple colors are used and the fabric goes through a series of dyeing, drying, and waxing steps. After the final dyeing step, the fabric is left to dry, and the wax is removed using boiling water or a solvent.
Artisans can create intricate designs by brushing or drawing wax onto the fabric. More uniform patterns can be achieved by carving designs into pieces of foam, creating a stamp that is used to apply the wax design onto the fabric. Lines are created using a “canting,” a wooden-handled tool attached to a tiny metal cup with a spout which pours out thin lines of wax.
Batik remains popular in Africa and Southeast Asia today. In Africa, women work together in group dyeing sessions for the most efficient production of batik fabrics. The patterns are often passed down from mother to daughter, and often represent traditional images from the artists’ own tribal history.
At House of Talents we have had the opportunity to meet and work with a few of these skilled batik makers to create handbags and household linen items. Please see and enjoy their amazing works of art under our products section.