How Modern Stamped Batiks are Made By Hand
Modern stamped batik came into use to reduce the extremely high prices for traditional hand drawn wax batik. I sometimes lovingly call modern stamped batik, "Fast Food Batik".
Modern stamped batik is beautiful, desirable, and delicious, but on a very different level compared to traditional hand drawn wax batik which is like a 9 course meal. Here are a few examples of "Hand Drawn" or Batik Tulis... These extremely expensive examples took many months to only make 2.5 yards. Because of this ultra high level of batik, we call Stamped Batik, "Fast Food Batik" with much love and respect. It is just a matter of perspective.
This hand drawn batik took 6 months to make a 2.5 yards piece.
This hand drawn batik took 4 months to make a 2.5 yards piece.
This hand drawn, unusual and rare batik took 6 months to make a 2.5 yards piece.
MODERN STAMPED BATIKS
Since we began designing modern batik for quilt artists and fiber artists with western taste, we have adopted non Indonesian motifs and colors which are more desirable for quilters. We have discovered that Indonesians also like our non traditional colors and motifs.
There are unlimited variations that can be used in smocking the fabric, making the first layer of color on the fabric, the wax stamping, and the last layer of smocking and color. This is only one of the combinations of technique, smocking, color and motif. You can follow the basic idea of "Wax Resist Dyeing with caps" from this sequence.
A 15 yard piece of white cotton fabric is dipped in a dark brown fiber reactive dye. After being saturated, the excess dye is allowed to drain by hanging on the crossbar.
The fabric, damp with dye is smocked by hand to create a uniformly random result.
Additional darker colors are added with squirt bottles for a more complex result.
After smocking and dye application the fabric is pulled into the hot sunlight on top of a long piece of oilcloth to cure.
During the cureing/drying process soda ash is sprinkled on top of the fabric for additional texture.
After the fabric is fully dried it is saturated with waterglas fixative, wrapped in plastic and allowed to cure for at least 2 hours.
After rinsing the waterglas from the fabric it is again dried before the next process.
The colored fabric is now stamped with wax using a handmade stamping device called cap (pronounced chop). The cap is made from copper to match the artwork that we provide.
The wax seals the fabric and color where it is deposited. The wax will "Resist" the action of the bleaching process and the second coloring process. The fabric must be stamped carefully so the pattern aligns correctly. Each yard of fabric must be stamped 30 times with the hot wax.
Each time the wax is stamped on the fabric it must be freshly dipped into the hot wax so the wax deposit is uniform.
The hot wax pan is on the left, the fabric to be stamped is hanging on the right of the table, and the already stamped fabric is piled up under the table. The table is specially constructed to provide a slightly damp surface so the fabric can be pulled up without the wax sticking to the table.
This is a close up of the fabric piled under the table. The darker brown spots are where the wax has been stamped.
The stamped fabric is dipped into bleaching chemicals to remove the color where the wax is not covering/protecting it.
As the bleaching chemicals work, the brown color can be seen getting lighter.
The bleaching process is stopped, the fabric is rinsed and again hung to dry.
The fabric is re-dampened so the smocking will hold it's shape. We do not bleach the fabric to white starting with a brown so dark. Too much bleaching will harm the strength of the fabric.
After the fabric is smocked again, 4 different colors of yellow, orange, rust, and light brown are added on top with sponges.Where the wax protected the dark brown color from the bleaching, it now protects from the new colors being added.
The fabric is again pulled out into the sun, and sprinkled with soda ash.
The white specks of soda ash can be seen here on top of the yellow, orange, rust, and light brown that were just added with sponges.
As the fabric dries it changes dramatically in color. It tends to dry first at the edges as seen here.
The fabric must be fixed with waterglas again, and then the wax can be boiled off of the fabric shown here.