Learning the process at Rozana's BatikMy first experience with batik was a class set up by Spiral Synergy at Rozana's Refreshing Batik Fine Heart Gallery. Yes, that's "fine heart," not "fine art." Rozana can rightfully be declared an artist whose medium of choice is batik. She has a passion for passing on her knowledge to others, so she makes quite a delightful teacher.
|Rozana demonstrates using a tjanting to apply wax over the design.|
When my friend and I arrived, we were faced with a totally blank square of thin, white cotton cloth. It took me a while to dither around looking at books to try to come up with a design. Meanwhile, my friend lightly sketched a butterfly onto the cloth. Rozana demonstrated how to dip the tjanting into the bowl of hot wax, filling the small reservoir, and then running it along the hand drawn lines so that the wax flowed out the small, hollow tube at the tip. She made it look so effortless, but it was harder than it appears. A slow, uneven pace delivers thick, blobby lines. If you go too quick, the wax has gaps where colors would bleed together in the wrong place. These wax lines block the fabric dyes from reaching the cloth so that once the wax is removed, the area beneath it is the original color (in this case, white).
|Painting on the dyes and blending the colors.|
Next, Rozana showed us how to paint the vibrant dyes onto the fabric. By applying one color such as dark red on one side and blue on the other, she coaxed the colors towards the middle to create a purplish blend of the two. The picture above show various stages of the process.
Then, she let us unleash our creative energies onto our own pieces. After a couple hours, I had my own personal batik masterpiece. Rozana slipped it into a clear plastic bag and gave us instructions on how to iron off the wax and set the dye.
|Top Right: Original sketch on paper and then traced onto the cotton.|
Top left: Trying my best to make it not look like the work of a small child.
Bottom: My finished floral piece with a geometric border.
A few of my friends have also taken their children to 2-hour classes at Rozana's. The kids are welcome to draw their own picture whether it be of a robot, airplane or other beloved subject which the teacher will then wax for them to paint. Otherwise, they can choose one of the pre-drawn and waxed designs. See Rozana's Facebook photos for some of her kid and adult customers' creations.
|Rozana is a wonderful teacher, designer and artist.|
Group party at Craft BatikWhen it was time for another friend's baby shower, we decided that painting batik baby blankets would be the perfect way to commemorate her "Made in Malaysia" baby. I made arrangements beforehand at Craft Batik which has a good setup for large groups. We could each make our own 14x14 inch square or up to six people could work together on a large 1.5 meter rectangular piece. I decided upon the large pieces and then chose three seascape designs for Craft Batik to draw and wax before we arrived. Other themes available are butterflies or floral designs.
On the party day, the guests gathered and were first shown around the small factory. This is a popular stop on package tours around the island of Penang. Unlike other factory tours that I've been on, this is an actual, working factory, not one that's just in action when the tourists are around. Craft Batik does both hand drawn wax as well as block printing. When blocks are used, the design is an up to 9 inch square pattern that is repeated over and over across the fabric.
|Blocks are dipped into the hot was and then stamped onto the fabric.|
|Painting the fabric dyes onto the block print design which is destined for elementary school uniforms.|
Finally, it was our turn to start working. Outside on a covered veranda, three large pieces were stretched across wooden frames waiting for us to start painting. (Note: White linen pants are a poor choice of attire when working with fabric dyes.) As a personal touch, we each signed our names in pencil, and the employee helping us applied the wax for us. I will admit, that I enjoy painting far more than doing the wax, so I didn't mind letting her do this step.
|Making batik blankets for a Texan "Made in Malaysia" baby.|
Batik turned out to be a great party activity. We divided up with five ladies per piece and chatted away as we painted, oohing and aahing at each other's work. We were scheduled for just an hour but ended up taking more like 90 minutes to complete the project. Perhaps it was all that talking instead of focusing on painting?
|Many hands make light work.|
When we were finished, we left the fabric to dry and browsed around the showroom before heading over to Ferringhi Coffee Garden which is the perfect place for a ladies luncheon. The next week, I returned to Craft Batik to pick up the blankets. They had already removed the wax and set the dye for us so that no extra work was needed. Out of the three designs, the mama-to-be selected one which we sent to a seamstress to be made into a quilt.
|The finished batik baby blanket|
Craft Batik can also work with children. I think it's a fabulous kids birthday party idea or a good school group outing. Another friend enjoyed this shower so much that she brought a couple visitors here to paint individual squares when they were in Penang for a few weeks.
Have you ever tried making your own batik? If you don't have time or the inclination while you're in Penang to try it for yourself, I encourage you to drop by either place as they have a showroom and lovely handicrafts for purchase. Sam's Batik on Penang Road is another popular shop, too.
IF YOU GO:
Painting is not a drop-in activity. Make sure you make prior arrangements.
Stop by and shop anytime without appointment.
- Contact Rozana (firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone 6-014-247-5347) or Spiral Synergy (email@example.com; mobile 6-016-457-0221)
- If you want to draw your own design, have some ideas before you show up so that you can get right to work
- Rozana can also do tie-dye with you or your children
- Allot 2-3 hours for session
- At the end of your session, you'll be able to take home your piece
- Cost is RM50 for one large square
- Gallery at 81B, 81C Lebuh Acheh, Georgetown open Monday-Saturday 10:30AM - 6PM.
- Website: http://www.penangbatik.com.my
- Contact Miss Fazilah at telephone 6-04-885-1284 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Plan on one visit to select design and make arrangements, one visit for painting, and a return visit to pick up finished products
- Cost is RM30 for one 14 x 14 inch square or RM150 for a 1.5 meter rectangular piece
- Showroom next to Factory open daily 9AM - 5:30PM at 669, Mk. 2, Teluk Bahang 11050 Penang)
- Another showroom (no factory) near the Botanical Garden open daily 9AM - 5:30PM
Sam's Batik House
- 183,185 Penang Road, 10000 Penang
- Email: email@example.com
This post is part of "Travel Photo Thursday" on Budget Travelers Sandbox, Pret-a-vivre, and "Oh, the Places I've been!" on The Tablescaper. Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.