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What is batik
Batik is a "wax resist" process for making designs on fabric. Hot wax is applied to portions of the fabric and penetrates the cloth. After the wax dries, dye is applied to the fabric, by painting it on or by immersing the fabric into a vat of dye. The wax prevents the dye from spreading to those areas of the fabric that have been waxed.
Designs may involve one color or many colors depending upon the number of times the hot wax is applied and the cloth is dipped into different colored dye baths.
The basics on how to make batik
For the batik above, I started out with a piece of unbleached white muslin (or, more accurately, ecru rather than white). The areas that I wanted to keep white, I covered with wax. Then I immersed the entire piece of cloth in yellow dye. This resulted in a piece of cloth that was completely yellow, except for the portions that were covered with wax. (The portions of the fabric under the wax were still white because the wax prevented the dye from coloring those areas.)
After the yellow dye bath -- and after the fabric had completely dried -- I added more wax, this time to any areas that I wanted to remain yellow. So at this point, I had wax on the areas that were to remain white AND the areas that were to remain yellow. Then I immersed the fabric in the next color.
I continued this process of adding wax and dyeing, using darker colors with each dye bath.
The end result is this lovely "Lancashire Rose" created by artist Buffy Robinson.