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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Belajar Membatik: The Art of Batik Making

Have you ever been interested in the art of Batik making? I've been an admirer but never dared myself to try my hands on the Batik making, until recently. I always thought Batik takes ages to complete and requires a lot of techniques that are too complicated to learn. But I found a Batik class nearby my in-laws residence in Cilandak, and decided to sign up. Rumah Jawa Jawi Java, the place where I signed up, is located at Jl. BDN II and is 5 minutes drive from my in-laws'! I can't believe I never noticed the place before, because it is quite prominently located within my everyday route.

In a short, I signed up for the first month. Registration fee is IDR 150.000 and monthly fee is IDR 400.000 for 4 sessions a month. One session takes around 4-5 hours. I don't have to bring anything because they provide all the course materials such as tjanting (a pen-shaped tool used in Batiking), malam (the resist material made from wax), aprons, color-dyes, chemicals, and a piece of white cotton cloth. I don't know if the fee counts as expensive since I didn't try to look for any comparisons,  but since it's nearby and convenient, I think it's the right place to start.

It turns out that Batik making is a lot more enjoyable for me than I thought it would be. It is sooooo addictive that I didn't even notice sitting for hours and hours without drinking anything (bad, bad example I knowww...) and I must say that I love doing it, and I want to share the process with you and whoever reads this blog. Hopefully one day you can try your hands on batiking too, because it's a load of fun! Children starting from the age of 4 and even grandmas around my mother's age (60) can enjoy it too.

So, what is the step-by-step in Batik making?
  1. Copying patterns. To do this, simply put your piece of cloth on top of a pattern (black and white print out is recommended). Pin the cloth to the print out. Then with a pencil, trace the pattern outlines (see pictures). My instructor said some of the most talented batik artists do not have to copy any patterns, they simply draw whatever they want to be envisioned in the piece of cloth just like painting masterpiece. But for a beginner, copying patterns is a good start to practice. I chose 4 classic Javanese patterns that I like to copy: Ceplok Jovo Jotro, Nogo Sajodo, Pakis Taji and Kupu Taman.

  2. Once the pattern is copied, you can start to prepare the wax resist. Melt it until the liquid is in right temperature. It's important to keep the wax in the right temperature during the whole batiking process, because if the wax is too cold they will not stick to the cloth piece and when it's too hot it will be too liquid and easily creates a mess. 
  3. For a beginner, using aprons will help to avoid the wax resist drops messing your favorite jeans!
  4. Dip your tjanting into the wax liquid, make sure not to scoop too much liquid or it will be really messy. Then position your tjanting a little slanted about 45 degree and with your other hand holding the cloth piece, begin to trace the pattern.
  5. Practice makes perfect. The first time I try using the tjanting to trace my practice piece, it was soooo messy. I kept forgetting that the tjanting should be held slightly slanted so it won’t drop literally everywhere, and that it should  be dipped back into the wax every now and then to prevent the wax from getting cold. After the second session, I get used to it and start to enjoy the process. (I forgot to ask someone taking pictures of me batiking because I got too excited. Instead, I take a picture of another student doing her isen-isen (details) to give you a glimpse of the process. 

  6. After the whole cloth is covered with the wax resist, repeat the same process to the other side of the cloth. What differentiates a high quality batik from the so-so quality is the extra effort the artist takes to ensure both sides of the cloth look equally stunning. 
  7. When both sides of the cloth is covered with wax resist, prepare for the dyeing process. Today's batik uses chemical dyes but there are also traditional ways using natural dyes from herbs and fruits to color the cloth. My teacher only taught me the modern ways to color the cloth. Maybe next time I will try the traditional ways. 
  8. Prepare 3 water basins. The first one is filled with water mixed with a chemical substance to 'prepare' the cloth for absorbing the color. The second one is filled with water and mixed with the color 'salt' which acts as the dye. The third basin is filled with just cold water to rinse out excess colorings from the second basin. So first you need to soak the cloth in the first basin. Then soak the cloth in the second basin to bring out the color. Then rinse the cloth in the third basin. Repeat the steps for about 3-4 times to build up the color to your liking. The color is slightly darker when the cloth is wet and will be brighter once the cloth is dry.

  9. The next step is to get rid of the wax resist. You will need to boil the cloth around 4-5 minutes to rinse out the wax from the cloth. At this point your can see the white patterns left from the wax resist. Your batik is pretty much ready to dry.
  10. If you want to add more color to the cloth, dry out the cloth entirely before drawing another coat of wax resist. The second or third color dye are usually darker than the first color, to make it easier to build up the pattern. Alternatively, you can brush in fabric paints to fill in multiple colors to the cloth. But you may need to do some trial-and-errors since not all fabric paints are heat resistant.
  11. Well, my deep red batik cloth is ready! And I'm loving it ;)


  1. wahhh yang saya gatot :) buat batik coba-coba sendiri

    1. Gatotnya di proses apa, mba? Test piece saya juga gatot, tapi begitu beneran disuruh mbatik di kain besar, malah enjoy bgt :)