Batik is an ancient art supposed to be 2000 years old. The wax process was brought to India by the late Rathindra Nath Tagore, son of the poet Rabindra Nath Tagore. The crackle effects of Batik is the most fascinating part which makes it unique.
There are a lot of possibilities in this method but one has to explore and experiment to exploit it. Enthusiasm and imagination is all that one really needs to bring forth the beauty of batik. There is always tremendous pleasure in wearing a garment wholly designed and printed by your own hand or creating a lampshade, cushion, curtains as you like.
The formation of crackles between colours is the interesting and beautiful part of this dying. To get crackle effect, wax is mixed with resin and used.
Now just try a very simple design of circles.
- Cotton or silk cloth (avoid synthetic materials) - take a square piece of any size
- Dyes - Usually napthol dyes are used (but any dye which is available in the market can be used). Colours used for the design - yellow, red, brown, black.
- Wax - Bee wax, paraffin wax, resin (gum)
- Brush - A small water colour brush, a 1/2" size and a 2" size of the ordinary household paint brush. These brushes can be used only for waxing.
- Vessel to heat wax
- Plastic bucket or big bowls to mix colours
- A frame to fix the cloth
- Preparing the cloth : Wash the cloth and starch it lightly. Starching is done to control the flow of wax. Iron the cloth before you begin. Always choose white colour cloth or very light shade. Now draw the design of circles on the cloth with charcoal or crayon and pin it to a frame.
- Waxing & Dyeing : Use gloves while preparing wax and dye.
Preparing the wax : Take 2 parts of bee wax and one part of paraffin wax into a vessel and heat it. When it becomes liquid, add resin to it. (Resin acts as a binder for wax).
As wax is inflammable, use an electric heater or hot plate and avoid direct flame for heating.
Wax should be hot enough to penetrate the cloth. i.e. it should reach both sides of the material. The wax should look clear and not milky, to penetrate the cloth. If the wax lies on the surface of the cloth, the dye will run under it and the resulting batik design will look smudgy. To test whether the wax is of the right consistency, take a rough piece of cloth and apply the hot wax and see if the wax reaches both the sides of the material.
Preparing the dye bath : Mix the dye with cold water. The preparation should be mixed according to the directions given but not diluted too much.
Crackle : Crackle is formed when the waxed cloth is dipped in the cold dye bath. The wax cracks causing veins of darker colour on the lighter areas. To have more crackle effects on the design the proportion of wax could be reversed to one part bee wax and two parts paraffin wax adding a little resin. Paraffin wax crackles faster than bee wax. The full effect of crackling can be seen when the wax is ironed out or removed by boiling
Applying the Wax & Dye :
Start waxing using a small brush changing to a larger size for broader areas. Paint with good, even strokes about 1/4inch inside the line of your design. When the brush is immersed in hot wax for the first time, the bristles will fuzz out. Press them back into shape on the sides of the pan.
The layer of wax should not be very thin. Keep on h eating the wax while applying to retain the clear consistency. Avoid crushing the cloth before dipping in the dye bath. It can lead to too many crackles.
Wax should be 1st applied only on regions where you need white colour. i.e. the centre circle. When it dries the fabric should be dipped in the 1st light colour yellow. Keep the cloth in the dye bath for about 15 minutes. Remove and dry it by hanging on a line or flat on a news paper. After drying, wax the regions where you need yellow. Dip it in the next colour red, when it dries. Now wax the regions where you need red. Now dip brown. When it dries wax the regions where you need brown. Final immersion is in black dye. To achieve a good crackle effect the material is crumbled before the last immersion.
The final stage after dyeing and waxing. Now it is time to remove the wax from the cloth.
Wax can be removed by ironing with a moderately hot iron. Keep a good layer of newspaper underneath the material and a single sheet on top while ironing. The paper absorbs the extra wax. The paper should be renewed as they become soaked with wax.
If too much wax is remaining even after ironing the cloth should be dry cleaned. Now the cloth is ready to use. Try out this with any design, according to your idea to make a wonderful garment for yourself.
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