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Making Batik in Bandung

6 May 2012

Saturday morning, I went with three other Americans to a local batik design and production business to learn more about how batik is made. Our workshop lasted three hours and cost each of us less than $20 U.S.

See an audio slideshow I made about our workshop and the Hasan Batik studio.

The woman above is a real pro, applying wax by hand to a large piece of fabric that has already had a pattern of wax applied with copper stamps. The stamps are also pressed by hand, one by one, in a very time-consuming process. This fabric is dyed again and again, with new patterns layered on, in wax, after each dying and drying stage. The first application of wax, on white fabric, will leave a white pattern after the wax is removed.

Her technique is batik tulis (tulis means to write). She uses a tool called a canting, a kind of pen made from a stick of wood or bamboo and fitted with a small copper reservoir that holds a small amount of the liquid hot wax. The reservoir is shaped like a tiny teapot. When she tips it forward, the wax flows out of a teensy little spout.

Above you can see three different stages of wax. Since the wax used is always the same — and will be removed later — the darker color of wax indicates a different stage in the process. Below you can see a finished product from this batik producer — Hasan Batik, in Bandung. Their designs are a mixture of traditional and new, unique motifs, and the fabrics they use are really lovely.

For the workshop, each participant receives a square of white cotton cloth. We could apply wax with any copper stamps we wanted (they have hundreds). After all the wax had been applied, we then colored our cloth by hand, using fabric dye and small paintbrushes. Like glazes for pottery, these dyes are not deep or and vibrant when they are applied. After they are fixed by a dip in a solution of hydrochloric acid, they become very bright. Below is my finished batik, after the dip, washing, and removal of wax.

We really had a great time in our workshop. I’m thinking about going back to do it again!

See an audio slideshow I made about our workshop and the Hasan Batik studio.

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