© 2013 SANDRA GRASSI NELIPOVICH All Rights Reserved.
What is Batik?
Batik is a wax-resist dyeing process that was popularized in the region of Java many years ago. However, some scholars believe that the early Egyptians were the first to use a paste-resist process to create batiks. Today one can find batiks in many parts of the world.
The Batik Process
The traditional process consists of painting with hot wax on a piece of any natural fabric and then dipping the fabric into dye baths of various colors. The wax one uses is usually a combination of paraffin and beeswax.
One starts with a piece of fabric, normally white, and blocks out portions of the fabric with the hot wax. The fabric is then put into the first light colored dye bath. The fabric takes on the color of the dye except for those areas where the wax was applied. The fabric must then be allowed to dry completely before continuing because the hot wax will not adhere to a wet surface.
One then alternates waxing and dyeing the fabric working from the lightest color to the darkest until the batik is finished. At the end of the process, the fabric is totally encrusted in wax, which must then be removed. If the fabric is to be used for clothing, it must also be dry-cleaned to remove any remaining traces of wax.
The crackle effect one sees in batiks is caused by cracks that occur in the wax while handling the fabric during the dyeing processes. The more crackle one sees indicates that the wax used had a high percentage of paraffin which is more brittle than beeswax.
I use silk as the fabric of choice for my batiks. The reason for this is that silk takes the dye much better than other fabrics I have used. I also use brushes to apply the hot wax rather than a tjanting needle. They give me more control of the design. My batiks do not exhibit a great deal of crackle. Due to their complexity, I use a high percentage of beeswax, which is more rubbery, to minimize the crackle effect.
When a piece is completed, I remove the wax by ironing the batik between blank sheets of newsprint and the fabric is immersed in an acid bath to set the colors. The piece is then mounted on acid-free museum board and matted using rag mats. My artwork is framed with UV plexiglass.