The true batik technique which has just been demonstrated (wherein areas are waxed to reserve them and the entire fabric is then dipped into a dye bath) is followed, with modifications from the pure Javanese technique, by most artists working in this medium today. The non-conformist who prefers his own innovations inevitably works out a personal method. No two Western batik artists can be said to approach the medium in exactly the same way. Many of them have experimented with variations on the medium, and several incorporate unorthodox techniques.
One of the common deviations is the hand-painting of the dye onto the unreserved areas, sometimes incorporating
this with the dipping procedure. This paint-on technique of applying color to the fabric is a simple exercise which allows for considerable license and gives the beginner an opportunity to experience avariety of possibilities. It is recommended as a first introduction to batik.
One of the advantages of painting on selected reserved areas—rather than dipping the entire fabric in dye for each color— is that several colors may be applied with ease in separated wax-free cloth islands. Colors may also be blended within any one open space. The direct paint-on dyeing technique may be done with strong concentrated dye solution. A simple substitute, though relatively more costly, is waterproof ink. These inks come in a good range of brilliant colors and combine well for intermediate hues. Available in % -ounce bottles, they are suggested for small designs, such as silk handkerchiefs. If one is to use them for larger pieces it would be wise to purchase the half-pint, pint, or quart size bottles, as there is a great saving in cost. These inks may be diluted, but for batik purposes full strength is recommended. They are water-soluble in use, but waterproof after they have set. However, they are not guaranteed to be wash-proof and therefore dry cleaning is preferred. One great advantage of these inks is their intermixing quality ; a wide range of intermediate hues is possible with them.
In the direct color application, pure colors may be juxtaposed allowing for a
brilliance or vibration that super- imposition of colors, commonly used in dipped-dyed batiks, might violate. The process may be continued with waxing and painting for combined colors and details as one develops the design. The final step in the coloring may be the
crackling for a linear veined textural effect. This may be done in a bath of dye, as illustrated, but it might also be easily achieved by brushing over the waxed fabric with ink or dye using a wide brush a 2-inch varnish brush is good for this purpose. Crackling penetrates more if the fabric is immersed in dye. However, to control areas where crackle is desired or to achieve variation in the crackle color in separate parts of the batik, the brush technique is preferable.
A further advantage of the hand- painting approach is that of spontaneity, the ability to build and change certain areas as the design develops, and to constantly work, as the painter does, with changing relationships and adjustments as the image emerges. The completely preconceived work, traced from a carefully done sketch, might very easily end up with a tight sterile end product. The vitality of most works of art results in part from the momentary decisions as well as the deliberations of the artist as he changes the work in progress. The strength of the color, the length it remains in the dye, the number of layers of ink applied, all these sensitive small adjustments are what make the work of art the product of a creative person. Between making the sketch and completing the work the artist inevitably grows; so must the work. Do not attempt to make a batik look exactly like a pencil drawing, or watercolor, or a cut paper color sketch which you may use for the plan. Do not try to translate an oil painting into the batik technique. The medium does not lend itself to this kind of reproduction with any degree of success. Evolve a style which expresses the medium. This will come if you approach batik freshly and experimentally. Do several tests or samples of the basic steps; wax in lines, or areas, dye or brush color onto the test piece, add more wax, add another color. If the result is a brilliant new color you are already well on your way. If it is a disappointing muddy tone, you have learned something about color. After several sample runs you are ready to experiment with your first piece. Trying the hand-painted technique might be the quickest way to learn. To proceed, follow the accompanying sequence of illustrations of a work in progress. The example illustrated was done in greens, blues, and purple on a turquoise colored fabric. After first wax reserving, yellow waterproof ink was used to create a rich green color. After further waxing and coloring with additions of darker green, blue, and purple inks, a wide range of closely related hues was achieved. Final treatment of crackle and a dye bath in dark purple was the only step in which the entire fabric was immersed in dye.