Saturday, August 6, 2016

The art of batik

The word batik is Javanese in origin. It means either 'to write and dot', or 'to tattoo'. Have you ever notice the pretty prints on the batik and wonder how they are made?

I was lucky that I managed to sign up for 2 programmes over the last weekend to experience the art of batik. One of them was "Batik Trail with Lee Chor Lin" whereby I learnt the history and get to know that there are different types of batik. The another was a hands on workshop where I get to experience all the way from drawing  to painting my art piece from scratch.

The art of batik is most highly developed in the island of Java in Indonesia. In Java, all the materials for the process are readily available — cotton and beeswax and plants from which different vegetable dyes are made.

In the batik trail organised by Aliwal Arts Nights Crawl, we have the privilege to be led by Ms Lee Chor Lin. She is the Chief Executive Officer of Arts House Limited. With her expertise, we visited Toko Aljunied and Basharahil Bros on Arab Street, followed by the more contemporary Kiah’s Gallery. 
Ms Lee with a piece of inland batik

Ms Lee provided lots of information on the history of batik. I learnt there are actually different types of batik, ranging from "inland batik" to "coastal batik".

Inland batik has earthy colour such as black, indigo, brown, and sogan with symbolic patterns that are mostly free from outside influence. Certain patterns are reserved for royalty.
Toko Aljunied
Coastal batik has more vibrant colours and are influenced various culture as a result of maritime trade. Motif such as European flower bouquets, Chinese phoenix, and Persian peacocks appears on these batik.
We were taught how to wear a sarong ( a long cloth piece that is to be wrapped around the hip) too! If you do not like traditional batik, you can visit Kiah's Gallery for contemporary ones. Unfortunately, I do not have photos of the gallery. 

Basharahil Bros

The following day, I went to Kamal Arts Limited at the Goodman Arts Centre. This is a workshop organised by NLB. The instuctor told us we would be doing Malaysian batik, whereby the colours are more vibrant.

How to do a batik? 
You can draw free hand on the cloth which was provided or trace using the templates which was provided.
Then, we need to fix the cloth on a frame.
After which, hot wax is applied. We do this by using canting ( a sprouted tool ) , This contained the hot wax  and drawn over the cloth.
Check for places which are not waxed properly.
The final step is to paint the cloth with batik paints.

I have done several batik painting before but this is my first time using a canting. So, it was pretty exciting moment for me. I think the same can be said for the rest of us. Painting was easy but applying the wax on the cloth was not. I dripped some hot waxes on places which should not have. At other times, I moved the canting too slowly till too much wax flowed out.

The instructors are pretty friendly. We sought help on colour mixing and they gave us advices. Some of us encountered problems on painting. They would come over and help us.

Below are some batiks on display. Very lovely.

I still can't believe this is batik

This is done by layering.
The studio organised open studio every Wednesday. For more details, please visit their webpage. The cost is $20. I do hope to go back again to do layering.

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