The revival of the ancient art of batik work, so popular in the Dutch colonies of the East during the sixteenth century, has aroused great interest in artistic circles, and many clever craftswomen are turning their attention towards this uncommon and effective method of decoration, which can be successfully applied to all textile fabrics, as well as to such substances as leather, cardboard, wood, metal, china, glass, or stone.
In a primitive form, the art of resist dyeing or staining was practised in very early days both in China and Japan, as well as in some of the East Indian islands, notably in Java, where the natives were wont to ornament their simple garments by means of this process. Many curious specimens of work executed by Javanese are to be met with in museums and among collections of foreign objects. Crude forms of men and animals, combined with barbaric devices in circles, stars, or intersecting lines, are usually found upon the textile fabrics that have been handed down to the present day. The archaic tools necessarily employed in olden times, which could only be used with good effect by the most skilful and painstaking of artists, have been greatly improved upon by modern exponents of the art. Especially has the ancient Japanese "tjanting," an elongated, covered-in spoon, with a spout from which to pour the melted wax used in this work, been superseded by the handy modern instrument known as the "batik pencil," designed and patented by Reiman, who has done much, by aid of his excellent outfits and helpful "Guide to Batik Art Work " to popularise the craft both on the Continent and in this country.
A batik outfit is essential for successful work. It contains, as well as the patent pencil mentioned above, a spirit lamp, casserole, several brushes, scraper, sticks of batik wax, and a cake of paraffin wax. Besides these requisites, bottles of methylated spirits and benzine must be provided, also coloured liquid stains, dyes, or inks, woollen rags, tissue-paper, a small flat-iron, a drawing-board and pins, pencil and ruler. Clear directions are given with the batik pencil as to the mode of inserting the stick of wax into the brass tube contained in its interior; how to heat the pencil in the flame of the spirit lamp, and how to handle it in a vertical position while tracing the design as if with a fountain pen, the flow of wax being regulated by pressure upon the needle-point which runs through a spiral spring. The pencil needs constantly re-heating, as wax cools quickly, and an even flow of wax is essential to good work. To cover large surfaces, paraffin wax may be melted in the casserole and applied with a flat brush.
Batik decoration is eminently successful upon textile fabrics. Dresses, scarves, curtains, cushion-covers, table-centres, trimmings, and an endless variety of other objects may all be treated; but for all large articles the aid of a dyer has to be requisitioned unless the artist is skilled in the use of the colour bath. Small things may be coloured with pure water-stains quite successfully at home. Silk and crepe-de-chine are favourite materials that lend themselves well to this form of painting.
Directions for Textile Fabrics
The piece to be decorated must be fastened firmly with drawing-pins to a flat board, a sheet of white cardboard being placed beneath it. The design can be transferred, or sketched in very lightly with a pencil.
Batik work as employed in decorating a crepe-de-chine scarf. The scarf originally was white and the pattern was traced in wax.
The material was then dyed grey, and the wax removed, thus leaving the design in white
The batik pencil should then be prepared as directed, and, with its aid, the whole design carefully covered with wax. Lines should be of even thickness. When re-heating the point, care should be taken to try it first upon a spare piece of cardboard, laid ready for the purpose, for in inexperienced hands the wax is apt to run too freely when extremely liquid. If, however, an accident occurs, owing to the vagaries of the melted wax, the colour can be removed by rubbing with a rag moistened with benzine.
Taking, as an example, the crepe-de-chine scarf illustrated, it will be seen that