India is a kaleidoscope of experiences and a talent house of age old techniques of treating fabrics long before automation took over. Some of them are still being practiced with great aplomb like batik.
Resist and Dye and Repeat!
Batik is one of the fabric dyeing methods that include applying of wax on cloth according to pattern so that those areas can resist dyeing. The preferred cloth for batik is cotton or silk which are natural materials since they absorb wax readily. It is one of those things that can be done quite simply at home.
The Batik process in simple steps-
- Trace the pattern in the fabric; one may use a stencil to do so
- Heat the wax- a mix of beeswax-15% and paraffin wax-85% (although the ratio is subject to variation)
- Apply the wax according to the design in places where you need to resist the dye using a brush
- The wax is allowed to cool down and the fabric is now ready for dyeing
- The dyes used comes in powder form and can be easily used
- The longer the fabric remains immersed in the dye bath, the stronger is the hue
- Once done, it needs to be rinsed under water to remove the excess dye
- Wax may be re-applied to areas where you want to resist a new color
- Put the fabric in boiling water and then rinse in cold water to take off the wax
- You can also wash with mild soap and then hang to dry
Batik motifs- some traditional; some novel
Batik motif generally falls in two categories. One of them is the geometrical patterns while the other is understood to be free flowing as per the artisans wish. Some of the expert batik artists need no pattern-etching to apply the wax. They apply it without the guideline of the pattern and produce lovely pieces.
Some of the expert tips to note
It should be noted when this dyeing technique is repeated in the fabric using different colored dyes, one should start with a lighter color gradually building it up. If a marble effect of dyeing is intended, then the wax on the fabric is intentionally cracked so that the dye can seep in them and create the effect. A multicolored batik dyed fabric would tell you how many times the dyeing process has been repeated along with the re-application of wax in order to resist the dye in desired areas.
Batik in everyday use
Batik is greatly used for home furnishings. In fact, it looks very artistic even as an item for clothing. Not only does it brighten up your living spaces with its vibrant colors but it has also become the latest muse of some of the leading designers. A batik-dyed fabric stitched as trousers could be quite a style statement commanding complete attention or a styled one-piece of batik dyed fabric need no further accessorizing. So for your next look- try the Batik!