Thursday, December 31, 2009

Batik Art:

Jack instructing us on the fine art of batik with Khem assisting. Tinu and Amanda looking and learning.

How many times have you seen and or bought a batik shirt or sarong? Batik was big at one time in the USA so you have undoubtedly seen/bought it somewhere sometime. But I never really knew how it was made.

Now, I do.

Jack taught us how to do batik, which is elevated to a true art form here, and we got to try our unsteady hands at it. First, you stretch your piece of cloth over a frame. Then you draw or trace a design on the cloth. Then you you use hot wax to trace the design.

After that, you paint by area until the design is revealed in glowing colors. Once the paint is dry, the cloth must be dipped in an acid solution to remove the wax, after which it is dried and pressed. Voila! Batik art.

Or in our case: Batik amateur efforts.

Problems you can run into include:
1. Being basically art-challenged and unable to come up with a design, in which case you trace one. (I could come up with a design, but after that, it experience.)

2. Your wax won't run out of the wax pen pot (a pen with a little pot of wax attached to it) because it cools too fast.

3. Your wax runs all over the place and even leaves BLOTCHES on your cloth (which cannot be removed.)

4. Your paint also runs all over the place and refuses to stay within your wax lines because your wax line wasn't thick enough in that spot.

5. Your colors are muddy.

6. You don't have enough colors to create what you started out to create.

All of the above happened to me and the other volunteers, leaving us with an appreciation of batik artists who have mastered this tricky art form. I am resolved to go looking for the most perfect batik-ed shirt or sarong I can find and pay the artist twice (well, okay, maybe not twice but a good tip, anyway!) what he/she is asking for it. Batik sells cheap here, despite the hours of labor and years of artistry that go into it.)

One of Jack's batiks.

Close up of my fish--but not too close or you will see all my mistakes.

Our humble efforts laid end to end.


  1. What a beautiful fish! It sounds like you may need another bag for the return trip. What was that phrase you use to get extra bags on the plane? "Mai pen rai?"

    Sara H

  2. good work aunt pam! it kinda looks like water colors, do you get to take it home?

  3. I think so, Erin--still needs the acid wash though. Would like to practice more getting the wax to flow properly! If I get a chance to try it again, I will! Some of your designs would be great in batik.

  4. keep your wax 110 to 120 degree C. always check your line before coloring. and keep your brush clean all the time.