Last month, I took a class in batik painting at Jadi Batik Gallery, a handicraft center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The gallery is located in a busy street, where it is easily accessible to an array of fine dining and shopping for both locals and tourists. The owners at the gallery are really nice and welcoming to visitors with a cheerful smile. This is the place for parents to bring their kids to experience batik painting.
Batik is found in many parts of the countries, including Nigeria, India, China, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. The difference between Malaysian and Indonesian batik is that the former has larger designs of flowers, butterflies, and abstract designs in vibrant colors, while the latter are deep colored with smaller designs.
The instructors at Jadi Batik are mostly local Malays, who are both talented and helpful. I was given a set of brushes, paint, and a piece of canvas. I was given a stack of design templates to pick one that I like to paint. After I’d selected a design, I sat down to trace the design with a pencil on the surface of the canvas.
Next, the instructor taught me how to use the canting, or tjanting with the hot paraffin wax to outline the design. The hot wax penetrates the fabric, thus preventing the paint or dye from spreading to the outlined areas.
The final step was to fill the white areas with paint–this was the highlight of the class. After the paint had dried, the canvas was soaked in a chemical solution to fix the dye and then it was boiled to remove the wax, leaving a clear white outline along the design.
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“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”