Behind the Batiks

By Bruce Magidson

If you are passionate about textiles with exotic color and texture, chances are you have a special love for batiks.

Skilled Indonesian artsans such as the man shown measuring dye create the beautiful colors and motifs for the batiks American quilters adore. Fabrics go through many steps in the batik making process before they are rolled on tubes and boxed for import to the United States.

Fabric aficionados (also known as quilters) are universally captivated by the stunning, color saturated batiks available online, at their local quilt shop, or from vendors at quilting events.

While there's always a place for a new "Bali" in a batik lover's stash, few know much about the fascinating, time-honored process used to make batik fabrics. To help you understand how batiks are made, I'd like to take you on a visual trip to an Indonesian batik factory near the city of Solo, Indonesia.

Batik making is an ancient art for embellishing cloth through the use of wax (or other substance creates a resist) and dyes. While batiks are produced in India, China, Thailand, and several African nations, the proces is the most renowned in Indonesia and Malaysia. In these areas, two basic processes are used to produce batik fabric batik tulis (hand drawn batik) and batik cap (stamped batik). Most of the fabrics you will find in your local quilt shop are stamped ones, so I've focused on that method for this article.

More of this article is available in the March/April 2007 issue of Love of Quilting

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