Friday, November 12, 2010

Understanding Batiking Process Part II

Many batikers mix their own wax, but the beginner would do well to purchase one of the preparations now on the market, which any art store can supply. A half and half mixture of paraffin and beeswax, with about a half teaspoonful of rosin, makes a good mixture for certain work, but as every expert has his own particular way of preparing wax, it is best for the beginner to use the manufactured product, which comes prepared.

The wax can be applied either with a brush or a Javanese instrument known as the "Tjanting". This consists of a small cup-shaped instrument with a handle, and from the bottom of the cup, a small spout curves downward. The hot wax is drawn through this spout by capillary attraction, in the manner of a fountain pen, when its point is brought in contact with the material. But the hand-ling of the "tjanting" requires considerable skill, and for this reason the writer recommends using the brush for applying wax. While the minute lines obtained by the "tjanting" may not be possible with the brush, very satisfactory results are nevertheless obtained with little practice.

Small brushes are used for outlining the design, while larger ones are best for filling in the large areas. A No. 4 sable brush is used for the former, and Nos. 6 or 12 for the latter work.

With the material on its frame, the dye mixed, and the wax prepared in the wax pot, we are ready to apply it to the fabric. With the small brush, the design is first outlined with the wax. Make sure that your wax is kept warm, as it must flow smoothly and evenly from the brush. If the wax is too cool, a clear line can-not be made.

Dip your brush into the wax pot, and allow it to stand while deciding your first stroke. Place your pot as close to the line to be made as possible, so that the distance it must travel from the pot to the fabric will be at a minimum.

The brush must be taken from the pot and carried to the fabric without any hesitation whatever, or the wax on it will tend to coagulate. At the start of each stroke the brush should be handled lightly to avoid making a blot, and its pressure increased as the wax empties from it.

It is important that the wax penetrates the cloth, and if the material is of a heavy texture, it may be necessary to retouch it on the reverse side. Fill in all areas you do not wish to dye in the first dipping. As the hot wax is liable to drop from your brush when being taken from the pot to the fabric, a folded news-paper should be used. Handle this in one hand, carrying it under the brush, while bringing the brush from the pot. In this way, any excess wax will strike the newspaper instead of the fabric, and no harm will be done. If a drop should strike the cloth on a part you intend to dye, it may be removed if care is taken. Place a soft towel under the spot, and dab it with gasoline or benzine until it disappears. Do not rub it too hard, or an unsightly smudge on the cloth may result.

Filling in areas properly with smooth even lines is one of the most important secrets of batiking, and the beginner should practice this step on waste fabric until skill is obtained. When all areas that are to remain undyed are filled in, the fabric is ready for its first dipping. The lightest shade in the color scheme should be chosen for the first dyeing, and all other portions of the cloth carefully "blocked out" with wax.

Both the wax on the material and the dye bath should be as nearly an even temperature as possible.

Keep the dye lukewarm, and if the wax has become cold, dampen the fabric in lukewarm water before submerging it. The cloth is now placed in the dye bath and kept there about fifteen or twenty minutes. It should be kept moving while submerged. When dyed, remove it from the dye bath and rinse thoroughly in cold water, without wringing.

The wax is now removed. This is done by placing it between sheets of newspaper and pressing with a hot iron until all the wax is gone. If for any reason this fails to remove the wax, dipping the fabric in gasoline will do so.

If two or more colors are used, the first dyed portions of the cloth are now waxed, together with any other areas appearing in other colors than that of this second dye bath, and the process is repeated.

This completes the process. Batiks should not be washed. When they become soiled, dipping them in a gasoline bath will renew their original brightness. A careful study of the accompanying illustrations should aid the beginner. In one will be seen the process of outlining the design with the wax, while the second shows the filling in of the larger areas between the outlines.

A simple form of batiking, popular in this country, but looked upon with scorn by the Javanese, is known as "crackle." This is done by waxing the entire piece of cloth, either by dipping or painting. It is then cooled, and crumpled gently in the hands until the wax has broken into small cracks. This is then dipped in a dye bath, removed, and the wax pressed out. The result is a tinted gossamer effect, which is quite pleasing, and as this is the most simple of the batik processes, it is naturally popular.

As has been said before, the art of batiking is not one which can be fully mastered in a short time, nor is it one recommended to the impatient, as it requires time and care to do it successfully. sources : www.oldandsold.com

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