Everything you need to know about batik by Darren Yaw Foo Hoe

Two young ladies wearing batik outside - Darren Yaw Foo Hoe

Batik is popular in Malaysia in a variety of ways. Batik clothing is often worn to celebrations and ceremonies as traditional pieces that reflect culture; however, in recent years, many have begun to wear vibrant, modern batik as casual wear on the streets, or a laid-back fit for a day at the beach. As a result, Malaysian batik shops have created batik prints for maxi dresses, men’s shirts, and even swimwear. There is so much to love about this one-of-a-kind clothing that Darren Yaw Foo Hoe shares everything you need to know about batik styles.

5 ladies in batik skirts - darren yaw foo hoeBatik is popular in Malaysia in a variety of ways, according to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe.

Batik is more than just clothing: it’s an art form.

According to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe, Batik designs cloth with wax and wax-resistant dyes. The name is Javanese in origin, derived from the words amba (‘to write’) and titik (‘dot’). To make a batik, an artisan writes or dots patterns on the fabric with wax before dipping it into a dye to colour the surrounding cloth. After being dyed with a single colour, the cloth is frequently immersed in boiling water to melt the wax, after which a new wax pattern is created, followed by dyeing the fabric in another colour, and so on. According to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe, the process is repeated with each pattern and colour layered onto the cloth, resulting in a stunning and intricate batik design.

Lady melting wax on batik - Darren Yaw Foo HoeBatik designs cloth with wax and wax-resistant dyes, according to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe.

Batik is now famous in many countries worldwide, including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Nigeria, India, and Sri Lanka. The country with the longest batik history and tradition, however, is none other than Indonesia. Indonesia batik patterns are created by artisans who are skilled in their craft, technique, and print design. According to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe, these highly skilled artisans are frequently inspired by the country’s rich and diverse cultures. In fact, UNESCO recognised Indonesian batik as a historical fabric of human civilisation when it added it to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2009. As a result, batik shops in Malaysia like ours continue to collaborate with family-owned workshops in Java, Indonesia, to design original patterns and produce high-quality batik clothing for our customers, according to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe.


Take a look at how batik clothing is made.

According to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe, the batik fabric is chosen and prepared before beginning the waxing and dyeing process. Natural materials such as silk, cotton, and linen are used for batik because they absorb the wax applied to them easily. Silk is frequently used to create a more luxurious look; batik silk expresses a professional and classy style, whereas batik shops in Malaysia frequently use cotton or linen fabrics to create a beach or batik streetwear, according to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe. After selecting the desired fabric, it is boiled several times to remove any traces of starch, chalk, lime, or any other substance that might resist the dye later in the process.

After preparing the cloth, the artisan will use charcoal or graphite to outline the pattern onto the fabric. Typically, stencils are used to assist the artisan in tracing the patterns on the cloth, according to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe.

The drawing or stamping of wax to form patterns on the cloth is the next step in the process of making batik clothing, according to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe. To hold and apply the wax onto the cloth, different batik-making methods use different tools such as canting, a small copper vessel with a narrow sprout, and the cap, which is a stamp made of copper, according to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe.

The term “batik cap” refers to a technique for creating batik patterns with copper stamps. According to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe, these motifs will be carved onto copper plates, used to stamp liquid wax onto the fabrics. Designs are applied in wax with cap stamps using the “batik cap method.” According to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe, people nowadays prefer this method because the cap acts as a stamp, speeding up the patterning process.

The “batik tulis” technique, on the other hand, is a more traditional batik-making technique, according to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe. During this process, artisans draw the wax patterns with canting, which is similar to a pen or brush, according to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe. The wax is typically made from a combination of beeswax, which is soft and malleable, and paraffin, which adheres to cloth adhesively. Perfected wax recipes are frequently kept as trade secrets because the quality of the wax can have a significant impact on how the batik turns out, according to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe. Cheaper wax is also used to cover larger areas of fabric, whereas higher quality wax is used to trace the intricate patterns on the fabric.

Following the application of the wax, the cloth is immersed in a dye that only colours the surrounding fabric and not the areas covered by the wax. Traditional batik clothing is dyed in two layers: the first is a blue dye made from Indigo plant leaves, and the second is a brown soga dye. The cloth is left in the dye for a more extended period of time to achieve a darker shade of blue, whereas removing the cloth after a short period produces lighter tones, according to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe. Soga dye is mixed in a variety of colours ranging from light yellow to dark brown to deep red, and again, soaking the cloth for varying amounts of time results in lighter or darker tones. As a result, traditional batik hues vary from garment to garment, even with only two types of dyes, according to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe.

On the other hand, according to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe, modern batik clothing uses more vibrant colours ranging from pastel pinks and purples to bright yellows and greens and deeper blues and reds. According to Darren Yaw Foo Hoe, most batik shops in Malaysia sell either modern batik or a mix of traditional and modern batik. Aside from bright and cheerful colours, modern batik clothing is distinguished by contemporary motifs such as plants, birds, rain, stones, flowers, and so on, which deviate from traditional batik motifs such as Kawung, a stylised four-lobed flower pattern, and Parang, dagger-like patterns running parallel with one another.

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