What is Batik?

Batik is both an art and a craft where wax is applied to surfaces including fabric, paper and wood, as a resist for colourful dyes. It originated in Indonesia and the Far East. Traditionally the word is used to denote a particular method of applying wax-resist dyed images to fabric.

Like watercolour, the fabric is waxed and painted starting with the lightest tones gradually building up through to the darkest. Selected areas of cloth are blocked out by brushing or drawing hot wax with a brush or tool called a canting(pronounced tjanting). The fabric is then coloured by applying dye. The waxed areas which resist the dye remain the original colour. To achieve more elaborate and colourful designs, the waxing and dyeing process is repeated.

When the final dye has been applied and allowed to dry, most of the wax is removed by ironing the batik between newsprint thus leaving the design on the fabric. Alternatively, the wax can be removed by boiling out or by dry cleaning.

The fabric can be stretched over a frame or framed under glass. Batik can also be used to decorate scarves, T-Shirts or clothing.


As you may have observed, my batiks are quite painterly in style. I have enjoyed pushing this Far Eastern wax technique of decorating fabric in a more figurative Western way.

People often mistake my batiks for watercolour paintings and can't believe that I batik my pictures instead of paint them. Wouldn't it be easier to paint the pictures and not the laborious task of producing my images in batik? I use a blending of traditional tools and processes along with experimental methods in creating my batik paintings. I work mainly in the method of direct application on Primissima Cotton usually stretched on a frame.

My travels and many interests are my inspiration. My work ranges from realistic land and seascapes, sporting scenes (especially sailing, polo and cricket), animals, birds, flowers to abstract images e.g. reflections which I create with wax and dyes on fabric and paper.

I try to capture movement, colour and luminosity in my work as well as contrasting light and shadow. I often handpaint areas with successive layers of wax and dyes, finishing off with a final dip of the fabric in the darkest dye. I also discharge the dyes at some stage and then reapply colour. My work is mainly on cotton fabric and I use Procion MX Cold Water Reactive Dyes.

My batiks are usually framed behind glass although larger pieces are stretched on artists' stretchers. Also I occasionally do batik and shibori silk scarves as well as wax resist collages on paper.