BEHIND THE CRAFT: BATIK
What is Batik
Batik is a traditional process of drawing motifs onto fabrics using a wax-resist dyeing method. The word itself originated either from Javanese word Tik, meaning to dot, or Amba, meaning to write.
Although the art of Batik is uniquely Indonesian, there has been a multitude of different iterations of the art of wax-resist dyeing. Wax-resist dyeing has been traced back to 4th century B.C. in Egypt, as well as in the Chinese Tang Dynasty, the Nara Period in Japan, and the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria.
Traditionally, Javanese women would make Batik fabrics only for personal use and ceremonial purposes. The craft became a way of storytelling, embedding meaning and values through motifs drawn using hot wax, combining the hand, the mind and the heart in its practice.
In 2009, Batik was added to the list of UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
TYPES OF BATIK
This is the finest type of Batik. The motif is drawn by hand, the hot wax is applied using a small pen called ‘tjanting’. A real Batik Tulis piece take months to make and is individually unique as each bears the hand-writing of the woman who made it.
Here, the hot wax is applied using a copper stamp. Due to the fast and heavy nature of the work, most Batik Tjap is made by men. As the process is a lot faster and standardized, 1 artisan can create up to 20 fabrics a day.
Due to the rise of demand for mass-produced fabrics, today traditional textiles are mass produced in thousands through digital and screenprinting.
The problem with this is that craft is not about the motif. Its identity stems from the process itself. For Batik, it’s the dye-resist hot wax that gives it life.
Printed at a fraction of the cost, these fabrics are appropriating traditional motifs while pressing artisans out of the market as their hands are unable to compete with machines. Learn more.
THE PROCESS OF BATIK
Crafting a true Batik Tulis piece involves 8 steps.
Historically, fabrics were used as a means of storytelling. That’s why each of our collections have intentions behind it. Like a prayer or reminder of the values you wish to wear that day.
Starting with a piece of white cloth, the motif is first drawn using a pencil as guiding lines.
Preparing the wax
Meanwhile, a special kind of wax is heated on a small stove. Its composition varies from village to village. Ours is made from beeswax, pine gum and paraffin.
Hand-drawing with hot wax
The wax is heated on a small stove and applied on the cloth using a tjanting. Each line becomes a meditation.
During the dyeing process, the wax protects the covered areas and preserves the textile’s background color.
To ensure the longevity of the plant-dyes, a post-dye mordant is applied to lock in the colors. We use lime and vinegar for Indigo (blue) and Symplocos leaves for reds.
The motif is finally revealed by boiling the fabric, returning the wax into its liquid state and removing it.