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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Beauty of Batik

Batik fabrics are nothing new. In fact, the art of batik has been around for thousands of years.There is actually evidence of it being done in the Far East, Middle East, Central China and India.  Some historians think this art traveled along the caravan trading routes routes.  Since coming to Lagos, I have seen some very beautiful fabrics.  The beautiful bright colors found here in Nigeria are nothing short of breath taking and I am afraid in my three years here, I haven't really done the whole realm of fabric here much justice.  But, today, I got to watch a local batik artist named Johnson share his craft and let the children at Elizabeth's school watch and learn a little bit of how batik fabric is made.:)

  We started with some aprons which were provided by the school. Johnson said they would work, but thinner fabric is better and organic fabric is best such as cotton. He started off by using a small tool which looked like a pen filled with extremely hot wax and wrote all the children's names on the aprons.

 Then, he drew designs on the aprons using the hot wax.
 The hot wax is what helps to make the design on the fabric.  The next step is to actually dye the fabric.  He said he bought his dye at the local market and he added something which looked like Baking soda to the hot water and the dye.  He said it will help the color from fading when it is washed.
 Large thick gloves need to worn during the dying process because the dye can irritate the skin badly and also dye the skin. I don't know how Johnson can do this all the time.  The fumes from the dye are extremely strong.
 The kids loved watching how he dipped the aprons into the various colors of dye he had prepared.  The next step will be for him to take the aprons home with him and boil them in extremely hot water which will cause the wax to melt right off the apron.  He explained to me that he then makes sure all the wax is off the fabric by scraping it with a stick.  Then, the beautiful designs are left behind.  I'll post some pictures of the finished products after he comes back next Tuesday to drop off the finished products.  I have to say that this whole process takes a lot of time and there is an infinite number of patterns which can be designed on batik fabric. The men and women who design these fabrics are nothing short of artists.  I have really come to appreciate these fabrics since living here, and I am so happy that my little girl can start to learn an appreciation for every one's talents and crafts.:)

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