Considered among the most graceful to look at, Batik is a textile art that includes a precise method of applying dye to fabric, usually cotton or silk. Although used in by many countries, this art of Batik is believed to have originated from India. The apparels are designed by coating the cloth with wax and then dyeing it. The wax covered area hold on to their original colors; thus creating a splendid looking contrast between the dyed and un-dyed regions. This is how the beauty of Batik is bequeathed. The explicitness and the scope of experimentation in Batik dyeing have lead to the international appeal among art communities around the world. In India, Shantiniketan in West Bengal and Chola-Mandal near Chennai are considered to be the main hub and centers for Batik Art.
Batik can be called as a three-step art namely Waxing, Dyeing and Wax Removing, excluding the finer process like sketching of designs and preparing the cloth. Batik art is nothing but the reverse of painting. Instead of painting or coloring the fabric the wax is applied to the area to keep it color free. The fabric is then soaked in dye, to have an even coloring on all the wax free area. The cloth is boiled after dyeing to remove the wax. It is then washed in soap water and dried in sun.
Liquid wax is generally prepared by mixing beeswax and paraffin wax in preferred quantity. The role of beeswax is to hold the cloth together whereas paraffin wax helps in cracking. Most widely used method of applying wax is by dipping in it whereas the screen printing method requires a stencil and hand painting requires a Kalamkari pen.
The designs and patterns used in the clothes are generally handmade paintings and not thread weaving. It is the usage of colors that set Batik dyed clothes apart from other such arts, one of the outstanding features of Batik art where artists get the freedom to show their talent and creativity. The two-tone shade that occurs in the dyed and un-dyed parts of the garments adds a unique style to the product, making it most spectacular. There are more then 3,000 recorded batik designs and patterns, the most popular motifs are of flowers, plants, birds, animals, insects, and geometric forms.
Batik dyeing was earlier used only in garments but with new technologies and tastes, it's usage has been extended to many other fields as well. Today, the exquisite murals, wall hangings, colorful paintings and household linen also adds to the list of Batik art.