Batik – Wearable Arts on Fabric マレーシアの ろうけつ染め

Batik is a form of painting on fabric using wax-resist dyeing technique. In Malaysia, batik usually has flower patterns and bright colours. Depending on the size of fabric chosen, it can take anywhere from 2 hours to half day or more. For our workshop, we found a reasonably-priced and convenient (flexi timing!) workshop at Jadi Batek. If you’re somewhere in Malaysia, do give this a try! Its quite a therapeutic experience.

Picking the Size

For sizes, J and I opted for a more reasonable and modest scarf-size art piece, as oppose to a huge pareo (I googled and pareo meant those big piece of clothes you can wrap yourself or self-style into beach wears). Another reason was because scarfs were cheaper than a pareo, and I thought if a mistake were made it will be smaller!

Pencil – Sketch, Canting – Wax.

At this point I was really excited and gung-ho, thinking of ways and designs I wanted to paint on my fabric. Unfortunately (or fortunately!), we were advised to pick an existing template, and start pencil tracing the template.

Batik, wax, flower, painting, design, Malaysia
I wish I could draw like this freehand!

After tracing onto the fabric, we were given a small ink-pot holder, known as “canting” to draw the wax on top of our pencil drawing. Make sure the wax poured on is thick enough, otherwise during the dyeing stage the colour may seep through!

Ink on Fabric

Finally its painting time. Painting on paper is full-on control. Painting on fabric… is water colour x 1000% more difficult! A huge respect to the masters who made the entire process look so easy. First of all, the colour was not what I imagined. I wanted to do a rose gold but the colour came out either pink or yellow. Second, the moment you touch your brush on the fabric, the colour just spreads! Not an easy medium to control without the help of wax being the border.

Batik, wax, flower, painting, design, Malaysia
Completed Batik piece! I look forward to more practice sessions.

Removing Wax and Sealing Colours

Wax-off time. The workshop we went to helped us to remove the wax and dry the ink to make it permanent, so we didn’t get to do this process. But basically, to remove the wax it is put into hot water to wash off the wax, followed by some form of heating to “seal” the colour. This can be done either by ironing or heating in the dryer.

AND you are done!

Now you can choose to either frame your beautiful masterpiece, or use it everyday as an accessory!

Batik, Malaysia, painting, design, flower, rose, frame, picture
Final work on the wall! Adds some colour to my plain white wall.

Batik is a beautiful piece of wearable art. Imagine wearing a hand-painted piece of clothing! Not to mention the lengthy process and difficulty in creating one. Of course as it is a bigger piece of art to work on, it is naturally more expensive than a scarf-size art piece like mine!

batik, fashion, art, design, fern chua
A lovely piece of batik dress by Malaysian contemporary batik designer, Fern Chua. Image credit: Fern Chua

Have you tried batik before? Do you have something similar in your country? Leave us a comment and share your experience!

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Caroline LT

Hi I'm Caroline. Writing is really a continuous interest since childhood, in a small way, may my writings make the world a happier, lighter, brighter place to be in!

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