One of the most frequently asked questions I get at events is, “What is batik?” 

Pronounced “bah-teek,” batik is a technique of decorating fabric using a resist substance. In most cases, that resist is wax. I paint melted wax onto blank white shirts to make my designs, and the waxed areas resist the dye when I soak them. 

What is batik?

Batik is most commonly associated with Indonesia, though you’ll also find batik art in other countries like Malaysia, Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Nigeria. Artists in those countries do more intricate and time-consuming batik than I do. Their projects can involve multiple layers of wax and dye that take weeks (or longer!) to complete.

What is batik?

Traditional batik is done using tjantings or stamps to apply the wax. A tjanting is a dripper tool that allows the artist to draw on the fabric. I have used tjantings, but my Type A personality prefers the precision and predictability of a paint brush.

My favorite part of batik are the veins of color that stream through the white areas of my designs. These are from cracks in the wax, which I deliberately scrunch before I put the shirt into the dye. It makes each shirt totally unique! 

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