Batik – the process of printing coloured designs and patterns on textiles by resisting with wax those parts that are not meant to be dyed – is a relatively new craft in Nepal; it is now widely practised to cater to the tourist and export markets.
PROCESS & TECHNIQUE
A piece of white cloth is stretched on a rectangular wooden frame. After the artist has sketched out the design on the cloth with a pencil or with charcoal, the colour combination is decided on. If their are four or five colours in the design, the first consideration is the sequence in which the colours are to be dyed, with the lighter colours being dyed first (like yellow and green), followed by darker colours like blues and reds, with black normally being the last colour.
The wax, in a metal vessel, is placed on a burner and melted; it is usually applied with a brush. As the base white colour cannot be replicated, it is the first colour that is resisted with an application of wax in those parts that are earmarked as white in the pattern determined upon. This is followed with the fabric being dyed in the colour that has been sequenced next. Once the fabric is dry, those parts that are meant to retain that particular colour are then resisted with wax. It is in this manner that the fabric is dyed – the parts meant to retain the colour are resisted with wax and this sequence is continued until the final black colour.
The final operation is the removal of the wax from the batik cloth. This can be done either by covering the batik with a piece of paper and applying a hot iron over it or by boiling the batik cloth in water till the wax melts off. The process is time-consuming but the result is beautiful.
Batik pieces are being used not only for wall hangings but have a range of other creative uses, including being used in cards, linen, and lamp shades.