For a long time, batik cloths were smiled at as “hippie wall cloths”, but in recent years the batik pattern as “tie dye” has celebrated its comeback. In English everything is just a tad cooler. And we’re happy about that, because we think batik cloths are really beautiful too! But many do not even know how much culture there is behind the breathtaking patterns or how many different patterns you can conjure up with batik.
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What is batik?
Batik is a dyeing process originally from Indonesia and can be derived from the Javanese word »mbatik«, which means something like “write with wax”. Javanese is a language that is mainly spoken in the east and center of the Indonesian island of Java.
With the original batik, wax patterns are drawn on fabrics with a special tool, the tjanting, in an elaborate process. The fabric is then dyed, but the areas of fabric covered with wax do not absorb any color and retain their original color. This then creates the most diverse patterns.
Where does the batik dye come from?
Batik has been around for over 2000 years, albeit under a wide variety of names and partly adapted techniques. However, the basic principle always remains the same: fabric is dyed and this prevents the fabric from absorbing color in certain places. This creates beautiful and, above all, always unique patterns in the end result. Most of the time, the patterns are achieved by tying off pieces of fabric and then dyeing them.
Batik patterns are particularly popular in Indonesia and Malaysia. But in Indonesia there is not only batik, but also plangi. The technique of batik is known under this name, in which the pattern is not created by wax, but by setting fabric.
The form of batik known in Japan is called Shibori. The special thing about it is that the extraordinarily beautiful patterns are created through the complex lacing of ribbons. Often the fabrics are knotted into balls or even sewn together. In addition, the patterns at Shibori are often very simple, as only one color is used.
Batik is also very popular in India, where it is called bandhani. The term comes from the Hindi word Baandh, which means something like “to tie off”. For a long time, the batik dyeing process took a back seat to Indian culture, but it has flourished again since the mid-20th century. This is also reflected in the economy, as batik fabrics are now being produced in India and are exported all over the world..
What do you need for tie dyeing?
How does batik work?
Have you become curious and would like to design your own, very individual patterns? No problem, because you can easily tie-dye yourself at home!
I . The first step is to choose a piece of fabric . These can be scarves, t-shirts, dresses or tablecloths. You can also dye pillowcases or even entire bedding sets if you like. Before you go to the next step, however, you should make sure that your fabric is completely clean and free of stains. It is best to wash it again before tie-dyeing to be on the safe side.
II . Then you tie off the fabric. Each technique results in its own pattern . You can knot it into a ball, tie a lot of corners or, as with the beginnings of batik, draw on the fabric with wax. Your creativity knows no limits. Just try it out and see what you like best. However, it is important:
The tighter you tie the knots, the greater the color difference will be in the end.
III . Then the actual dyeing step begins. First dampen your fabric a little and then put it in the dye bath. Refer to the packaging instructions for more detailed information on how much water you need and how long the fabric should stay in the paint. As a rule of thumb, however, 4 liters of water and 30 minutes should be sufficient for most substances. Of course, you need a little more water for bed linen, but you can also dye several fabrics at the same time, for example.
The longer the fabric lies in the dye bath, the more intensely the fabric part will glow.
IV . This is probably followed by one of the most important steps in batik: the fixer. This is crucial for your batik artwork to keep its color. Because all the work should not have been in vain. Finally, wash your fabric until the water runs clear and let it dry. And your homemade batik is ready!
To be on the safe side, wash your masterpiece on your own the first time you wash it – although batik is great, we don’t want to dye all of your other items of clothing as well.
In summary, you proceed as follows:
I. Choosing the fabric.
II. Tie off the fabric, knot, process with wax, etc. ( depending on the desired pattern )
III. Dyeing the fabric: pay attention to the color of the packaging. Mostly: Dissolve the paint in 4 liters of water and let the fabric steep for 30 minutes.
IV. Put the fabric in the fixer and then wash it well.
Which fabrics are suitable for batik?
Basically, natural materials are best used for batik. These include, for example:
cotton, linen, hemp or viscose.
Silk is also great for batik, but the colors usually appear a little lighter on the fabric.
You can also use blended fabrics, i.e. a mixture of natural and man-made materials. Artificial materials are, for example, polyester or polyacrylic. Just make sure that the proportion of natural fibers is at least 50%. Because artificial fibers unfortunately do not absorb the batik dyeing and your dyed fabrics should of course shine as colorfully as possible.
What patterns are there in batik?
The nice thing about batik is that it is always unique. No t-shirt, no dress and no tea towel will ever be completely identical to another. On the one hand, the unique pieces are created because the color of the fabric is absorbed a little differently each time. On the other hand, there are also many different techniques for batik, which provide the most diverse patterns.
We distinguish in advance between:
If you want an oblique gradient, for example, you can fold your T-shirt from a lower corner diagonally to an upper corner, for example from the bottom left to the top right. Then you roll up the shirt lengthways, tie it in several places and then dye it.
Fold it diagonally,
so a triangle is formed.
Roll it up lengthways.
Tie it at several points.
If you don’t have any yarn on hand or just want a very simple batik that still has that certain wow factor, you can also dye your fabric with the ombré effect. To do this, you simply moisten your fabric a little and only put one end of it into the dye bath. The color will climb up the fabric and in the end you will have a beautiful gradient.
Wet the cloth.
Put one side in the paint.
The color will climb up.
We already presented this method to you at the beginning of the article. If you feel like trying the Japanese style of batik for yourself, all you need to do is follow the steps below. First you knot the fabric or your T-shirt into a ball, which you then fix with elastic bands. The fabric is then placed in the paint bucket, rinsed out and set. Finally you loosen the straps and your batik in the Japanese style is ready.
Knudel the piece of cloth,
into a ball.
Tie the ball tightly with ribbons.
The spiral pattern in batik is very seldom seen and it is so easy to implement! At the beginning you choose a point in the middle of your fabric. Then you turn the fabric into a fabric screw, the movement is similar to that of a spinning top. In the end, your untwisted fabric should look like a raisin snail. Tip: The twisting works better if you moisten the fabric with a spray bottle beforehand. Then you tighten several rubber bands around your fabric snail so that it maintains its shape while coloring. After the preparations for the pattern have been made, color the fabric as you like. The spiral looks particularly beautiful with two colors.
Fix it in the middle and
rotated the outside
until a snail is formed.
Tie the snail with a thread.
Batik with two colors
If you like batik with one color, batik patterns with 2 colors will be even more breathtaking for you. In addition, batik is not that much more complicated with two colors. There are only 2 important rules. First, always start with the lighter color and then take the darker color. Second, it’s best to wait until the fabric of the lighter color is dry before using the darker color. In case of doubt, there may be unwanted color mixing and in the end you only have brown batik slush instead of a beautiful batik pattern.
An easy way to tie two colors is to separate several corners of your fabric with a ribbon. Then you first dip the entire tip in the lighter color and then only the lower tip of the tip in the darker color. This creates a nice color transition and you will create many colorful batik circles on your fabric.
A second option is, as a first step, to tie off the fabric with elastic bands as usual. Then you dye the entire fabric in the light color. Then remove a few elastic bands and dye the fabric in the second, darker color. Finally, all you need to do is wash off the remaining paint and use the fixer to make your luminous work of art more durable.
As you can see, there are so many ways to tie a tie. A plus point is that there is no right or wrong with the patterns. Just choose one to get started, go ahead and let your creativity run free.