Indonesian Batik Cap

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Batik is one of the most famous traditional art forms from Indonesia

due to its unique, intricate patterns and prominence in fashion around the region. Batik itself refers to the traditional technique of dyeing textiles and fabrics using wax, creating patterns which are then transformed into various items such as clothing, home ware and so on.

There are several main ways of creating batik. The most intricate and therefore also most expensive is 'Batik Lukis', which uses a tool called 'Canting'. Canting is a pen-like copper container with a snout at the end of it, which the hot wax is released from. It is not unusual for a piece of Batik Tulis fabric to take several months to complete, from the drawing of patterns on the fabric, waxing over the patterns, dyeing the fabric and then removing the wax. This is why many intricate Batik Tulis fabrics are treated as art and often appear in art galleries.

The second way of creating batik is through the Batik Cap or Batik Stamp method. It is the method that we use most often in our products as it utilises traditional batik principles, but also keeps the price affordable for most of the general public. This is not to say the Batik Stamp technique requires no skills. Here, we will elaborate in a bit more details about the steps involved in creating a piece of Batik Cap fabric...

1) Batik Cap or Batik Stamp is a technique of using large stamping blocks made of copper to transfer the desired motifs or patterns onto the fabric. These stamping blocks normally measure 20cm x 20cm and are constructed from hundreds of small pieces of copper which have been carefully shaped by hand to create an intricate pattern and then soldered into place.

2) With the stamping pattern in mind, the artisan will choose a piece of fabric to work on and place it on an even and lined surface, while waiting for the wax to melt. The wax used in this technique needs to be kept between 60 to 70 degree Celsius.

3) Once the ideal temperature is reached, the stamp is dipped into the wax until to cover a 2cm portion of the bottom of the stamp. Using adequate force, the stamp is then placed on the starting point of the fabric to the point where the wax seeps through to the other side of the fabric. This process is repeated by dipping the stamp back into the wax and carefully aligning the stamp back onto the next part of the fabric to continue the design. Keep in mind that fabric used often measure metres long and this part of the activity requires extreme focus and precision to ensure that the patterns are not misaligned and appear neatly on the fabric.

4) Once stamping has finished, the next step is to colour the fabric by dipping it into a big container containing dye. Due to the stamping stage, only the parts of the fabric not covered by the stamped wax will be coloured in this process.

5) Upon dyeing, the fabric is hung to dry before the next stage takes place - peeling off the wax to reveal the final colours of the batik fabric. The most basic colour combination will show the original colour of the fabric which is now back in sight once the stamped wax has been peeled off, as well as the dyed colour of the rest of the fabric. Multi-colour combinations can be achieved by repeating the batik cap process all over again, this time using different colours.

While the Batik Cap technique is not as exhaustive as Batik Tulis, it still requires a tremendous amount of training, skills and precision. A piece of Batik Cap fabric can take up to three weeks to complete.