Saturday 1 October 2011

Indian Batik – Technique used in Printing

I my previous post,’ Indian Batik – Another Ancient Art of Printing on Textiles’, I talked a bit about introduction to its history, methods, equipment and stages.  Taking it further, I’ll talk in details the stages and technique used in Batik printing here.
Batik painting in Black and Red

The creation of batik involves three main stages- process of waxing, dyeing and dewaxing.

The ideal mixture for batik wax is 30 per cent beeswax and 70 per cent paraffin wax. Cotton and pure silk are the best fabrics for Batik as these are strong enough to bear the heat and wax.  The weave of the cloth should not be too close, and the fabric should be translucent when held in front of a light. Fabrics are first washed thoroughly to rid of starch before the dying begins.  In general, the final design must be conceived before the picture is begun. The design is traced and then the fabric is stretched on wood frame. The parts of the design to be white, for example must be waxed at the same time before any subsequent dyeing. Molten wax is either applied with thin brush or tjanting pen is used to achieve very fine lines.  Wax is filled in the ‘bowl’ of the pen and it flows via the small hole in the spout to the cloth.
Using Tjanting Pen to apply wax
After the first waxing the fabric is dipped into a dye bath whose color is the lightest tone of those to be used. Only cold dyes are used, so wax remains intact on the design. When the piece has dried, we see an area of white and an area of cloth that is the color of the first dyeing. Wax is now applied to those parts in which we wish to retain the first color, and the entire fabric is immersed in the second dye bath whose color is darker in tone than the first. This process is repeated until the darkest tone required in the final design has been achieved. While applying wax, care must be taken that it doesn’t get over heated or it’ll catch fire.
Applying wax on the fabric 
In batik the correction of mistakes, in most cases, is impossible. The Painter is not limited in any way in the variety of colors he uses and juxtaposes. In case of batik, however, each color used is significantly changed by the proceeding color; or at least it is certainly affected by the color "underneath". The only pure color is the first one, so all other colors used are mixtures, determined largely by the first color, or the first strong color. Therefore, it is very important to have a complete understanding about color mixing.

After the final dying, the fabric is boiled in water to remove the wax. Then it is washed with soap and water. When the fabric has dried it is placed between sheets of absorbent paper and a hot iron applied, to completely melt away any remaining wax.  As the sheets of paper absorb the wax they are replaced by fresh sheets until the wax is completely removed. At this point the final design is seen clearly for the first time.
Batik Saree Border in Graduating hues
The dyes used for this are natural and derived from barks of trees, leaves, flowers and minerals. The indigo blue was one of the earliest dyes to be used. Blue for example, was obtained from indigo, while orange and red were from henna. Yellow was from turmeric and lilac and mauve from logwood. Black was created by burning iron in molasses and cochineal from insects.

The colors in Batik are much more resistant to wear than those of painted or printed fabrics because the cloth is completely immersed in dye and the areas not protected by resist are allowed to absorb hues to the extent that the colors do not easily fade.

Because of the tedious process of dyeing and waxing this art is declining and giving way to machine printed textiles

Beautiful "Horses' painting with Batik