Posted by: ghostdawg2 | April 7, 2010

Indonesian Batik How it is Made by

The word “batik” comes from Java and means “printing in wax.” This method of decorating has been practiced for centuries many Asian countries. The process involves using wax to resist the effect of fabric dye – the parts of the cloth coated in wax remain the original colour.

Textile patterns are depicted on many of the stone statues carved on the walls of Javanese temples such as Borobudur and Prambanan (AD 800). But there is no evidence that these were Batik. The Dutch refer to ‘

highly decorated fabrics’ in the 17th century but most scholars believe that the complex Javanese batik designs would only have been possible after the 1800s when finely woven cloth, was imported to Indonesia from India.

(Right) A design is drawn onto the cloth.

The Batik Process

Hot liquid wax is applied to fabric either drawn by hand or printed by hand using a pattern block. The fabric is then dipped into a dye solution – the waxed areas protect the cloth and the dye can only penetrate the unprotected areas. That’s Batik put simply but the methods used in Indonesia are more elaborate with successive waxing, dying and re-waxing to achieve highly beautiful and intricate designs

The canting


The Canting, Sometimes called a wax pen, is a small copper container with a small tube mounted on a bamboo handle. The copper container is filled with melted wax and the artist uses the canting to draw the wax onto the cloth. The spout can be as small as 1 mm in diameter for very fine detailed work. Larger spouts are used to fill in large areas also parallel lines and dots can be drawn with canting that have up to 9 spouts.


The Batik Cap

The Cap (pronounced chop) is a copper stamp and first appeared the mid-19th century. It works in the same way as block printing – in this case printing areas of wax onto the cloth. They are made of 1.5 cm wide copper stripes that are bent into the shape to form a design pattern - end pieces of wire are used to form dots.
Each cap is attached to the handle and makes up a repeatable design element.

Batik Cap

Batik Caps

Step One – first waxing
Wax is applied to white or beige fabric over a penciled-in outline with the Canting or with the cap.
Step Two - first dying
The fabric is dyed and the area of the cloth where the wax was applied will remain white.

(above left) A complex pattern might require as many as ten sets of ‘cap’. (above left) the dye bath

Step Three – second waxing
The colour of the second waxing is a dark brown color to help distinguish it from the first waxing. The parts covered with this wax application will protect the colour of the first dying.

Step Four – second dying
The fabric is dyed with a second colour and areas that are not covered by wax will be dyed. At this point the fabric will have three colours – the colour of the cloth, the first and the second dye colours.

Step Five – removal of the wax.
All the wax is removed by heating with hot water and scraping and sponging off.

(Above) This what the fabric looks like after the first dying and before the wax is removed.

(Left) Step five – removal of the wax.

Step Six – third waxing
Wax is again applied to areas of the fabric as in step one and three

Step seven - The fabric is dyed again
Step Eight - Wax is removed.

These steps can be repeated as many times as the design requires

Batik shirt

(above) Batik fabrics drying and (right) a finished Batik fabric.

Batik fabrics are used to make all sorts items. Below are two shirts. The one on the left is made with silk and the design was drawn entirely by hand with the canting. The shirt on the left was made with the cap but was then highlighted with gold paint so that it shimmers in the sunlight.

Batik Shirt

Batik shirt

Prada Cloth

(Gold Cloth) In earlier times batiks were adorned with gold lead, gold leaf or gold dust and were known as Prada cloth. The gold was applied using glue consisting of egg white or linseed oil and yellow earth. This glue was so strong that the gold application could resist washing. Gold Prada cloth is still made today but gold paint is used instead of real gold.

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