Waxing Lyrical for Batik

Several months ago I went to a taster workshop to try out the ancient art of Batik at Handprinted.net (www.handprinted.net) in Bognor Regis.  I came away with mixed feelings and although I did have a go back in my studio, I wasn’t that enamoured. Still, I did feel that I would like to have another go and when I saw that Handprinted were running a full day workshop I thought I’d give it another try and if I was still lukewarm after then I’d forget about it.  Today I went to try again.

The workshop was run by the delightful and enthusiastic Holly, who apart from being a very talented artist herself, is full of knowledge, tips and general inspiration and encouragement.  She started out giving a short demonstration and showed us some pieces she had created herself on a workshop and then we were let loose on creating a sampler to try the different ways of making basic marks using tjantings, brushes and other implements.holly

Batik Sampler made by Holly at Handprinted.net

We divided our fabric into 8 squares by drawing the divisions in wax and then set about making marks and designs in each square, after which it was time to fill in with procion dyes.  Once the first colours have been laid down it is time to dry them off and then cover any areas you want to stay that particular colour with another coat of wax.  Then the whole method is repeated.

wax drawing

Pinned fabric is divided up into sections by drawing with wax and designs are drawn in the sections using tjantings, brushes and other implements


Procion dyes in various colours are painted on to the fabric

dye pots

The dye bar

The process for making a Batik is actually quite simple, but the reality of controlling hot liquid wax poured through a small nozzle or running off a brush is something that requires patience, steady hands and loads and loads of practice.  My own efforts were only very basic, but I can see that it is a medium that I could find future uses for, especially as it is on fabric which opens up many possibilities for then using the resulting fabric to make other things.  The afternoon session had us all making pictures of varying types.  I chose to rework a photograph of some foxgloves which were in my garden last summer, and which I have already used in a textile piece for a Silent Auction for Charity and also as a painting (as yet not quite finished).

step 1

Step 1, wax spots are picked out in pink dye

step 2

light green areas to represent leaves are added

shaping up

more wax is added to cover areas which are to remain pink or pale green and a second red colour is added

taking shape

the whole process is repeated and more dye painted on

almost there

green dye blocks in the design


the finished piece

I made this piece using brushes loaded with wax and dyes.  I think that for me it’s the looseness and painterliness that can be achieved which attracts me to the medium.  I am not sure I can ever see me making very detailed pieces, but the expressive marks that can be obtained on a large scale (this piece is A0 size) is quite intoxicating.  Even then, some of the areas in this piece are a bit too controlled, so room for practice and improvement!

I really enjoyed this workshop, Holly was a brilliant tutor and as usual Handprinted.net came up trumps!


About paisleypedlar

Artist, Sewist, sometime Cyclist and Arm Chair Activist
This entry was posted in acrylic painting, Art, batik, colour, drawing, drawing and painting, education, Fine Art, flowers, gardens, procion dye, wax and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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