Batik (also known as Javanese wax painting) is a technique of textile design accomplished by negative (or resist) dyeing. It is also the name of the resulting fabric. Designs are first painted on both sides of a cloth in melted wax, traditionally poured from a copper pot with several spouts, or applied with various hand tools. After patterning, the cloth is dipped in dye, which is absorbed by the uncovered cloth areas but resisted by the waxed design, thus creating a light pattern on a dark ground. After the wax is removed (by boiling or dissolving) the process may be repeated many times to achieve great intricacy of design and richness of color.
Batik, known to the ancient Sumerians, was developed into an art of great beauty by the Javanese and other Indonesian peoples. They used traditional geometric or floral motifs, often symbols of religion or social status, most frequently in blue and brown tones. Batik was introduced to Europe by Dutch merchants in the 17th century, and the process has since become commercialized in Indonesia.
Due to the tremendous amount of hand-crafting involved in the batik process, it is virtually impossible to attain the level of duplication sometimes expected of mass-produced or synthetic materials. Because of the inherent diversity in the fabric, you should consider the swatches displayed on this site to be representative of a range of colors and patterns, rather than an exact depiction of what your garment will look like. Rather than being a drawback, we think of this as a wonderful plus, since each and every garment is a unique, one-of-a-kind creation.
As the individual artisans lay the wax designs onto small sections of fabric, they incorporate features that reflect their moods and interests, focusing on the characteristic flora and fauna of Balinese island life. Working apart in various regions of the island, they create fabric 'paintings' that modulate from day to day and season to season. (For example, cloth painted during the rainy season in Bali will have colors that are more muted and softer than those made during the dry season.) Style and details of pattern change according to the particular designer, and subtle color variations reflect the small batches of fabric and dyes that are processed at any one time.
Our standard refrain concerning batik clothing is "Each garment is designed and painted by hand, creating unique patterns and hues; yours may vary slightly from the photograph." We think that's preferable. We hope you'll agree, and enjoy your distinctive purchases.