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Technique

The batik process presents distinct stages which require planning during design stages. A design outline can be traced by drawing or brushing melted paraffin and beeswax with a tjanting onto the silk so it penetrates specific portions of the fabric.

The waxed silk is then painted with silk dyes, and I typically use bright colours. The waxed areas repel or resist the dyes, therefore the term ‘resist process’ is often applied in reference to batik.
Each time a new dye colour is introduced on the silk, portions that need to be retained are waxed and held until the desired colour scheme is achieved. Dye colours are applied from light to dark, sometimes overlapping, creating new colours as they combine. The darkest colour is last.

Special effects introduced to the vibrant silk dyes such as speckling with coarse sea salt, and surgical spirit and water to vary the colourwash help to suggest texture. Also, a characteristic crackling and veining of batik work is created by seeping a darker dye into the cracks made in an area of cooled wax.

The end results can be unpredictable at times, making batik so unique and exciting! Finally, all the wax is removed by ironing the silk between paper and steaming, which also fixes the dyes. The heat from the iron melts the wax which is absorbed by the paper.
I love the tactile properties of silk, which is why I, sometimes, introduce embroidery and embellishment to the silk work, adding another dimension to the piece.