Batik on paper is something I have only relatively recently experimented with. I’ve been working with cold water dyes and inks on a variety of robust watercolour and cotton rag papers, using cantings and brushes to apply the wax. These papers take the dye easily and don’t fall apart when wet, so allow dye to be washed back if necessary. Working on paper can have advantages, the dyes dry faster because they are on the surface only and don’t need to penetrate through, as on cotton or silk. Also the dyes can be painted on like watercolours, allowing gentle build up of tone and and blending of colours. The waxed lines are crisper edged on paper and give the work a clarity and sharpness.
The batik process on paper loses some of the characteristic properties of batik on fabric, the obvious loss is the distinctive “crackle”, where the wax cracks during dyeing and allows thread veins of colour to seep into the tiny grooves. The “crackle ” can be manipulated on silk and cotton by crushing the waxed areas to maximise the effect, yet this cannot be achieved on paper without destroying the surface structure.
The marbled veins in Jodie’s portrait have been finely drawn in with an ink pen, a laborious task compared to the instant crackle of wax on crushed fabric in a dye bath !
Along side hot wax resist, clear wax crayon has been used on the Bluebird portrait to create additional textures.
It is interesting to note how batik on paper enters the realm of painting, managing to shake off its association with craft and becoming a contender among traditional art mediums. Paper is perceived to present fewer problems commercially, in terms of presentation, durability and longevity. The perception that traditionally made batik on cotton is any less of an art form or less durable is a misconception, yet batik on paper manages to bridge the gap between mediums and makes it more accessible.
I would be interested in your views on this, everyone’s experiences and opinions are different when creating, viewing, buying or selling batik. Do you think batik is an artform or a craft medium, maybe it can be both ? Please feel free to comment at the bottom of page.
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