Series of samples showing batik process step by step

Indonesia or Borneo

Date: c.1900-1950

Origin: Indonesia or Borneo

Dimensions: Each panel measures H 27.5cm x W 24cm

Venue: Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

These panels from Indonesia or Borneo show the fourteen stages of the batik method required to make this relatively simple design of a beetle using blue and brown dyes. A more detailed design and wider range of colours would add many more steps to the process and require even more patience and skill to create. 

Batik is an intricate process that uses wax to ‘resist’ or block the dye in certain areas to create the pattern. The wax is usually applied using a small pen like tool that holds a small reservoir of wax that can be melted over a heat source to allow it to flow from the tip of the tool.  A new application of wax has to be carried out for each colour and stage of the design. Precise lines are needed to create complex patterns and for the highest quality batik, the design would be drawn onto both sides of the cloth in perfect alignment. The characteristic ‘cracking’ of batik fabrics comes from the wax layer cracking slightly as the cloth is immersed in the dye bath.

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