Batik Designs…..Where Do They Come From?

BatiksMy third collection of batiks (Malam III) is now being shipped to shops and I am already working on the next collection which will be available in about a year.

People often ask where I get the designs for the batiks. I feel lucky in that I have a vast archive of patterns I have created since 1981 when I first began designing fabric. Many of those designs can be adapted to batik prints and you would have a hard time realizing that the batik version began with the same concept as the other.

Here is the chop making working from a design and building a frame for the copper strips.

Here is the chop maker working from a design and building a frame for the copper strips.

Creating batiks is a completely different process than screen printing which is mostly what is used today. Where some of the screen printed fabrics have repeats up to 24 inches, the batiks can only have a repeat of about 8 inches. There is a very good reason for this. The “cap” (pronounced “chop” and Americanized as “chop”) is an approximately 8 to 10 inch metal square with the design embedded into it with thin copper sheets.

One of the prints from the Alsace collection by Jinny Beyer for RJR fabrics. ca. late 1980's. I do a sketch of the design and send it to the chop designer to refine for making the design in copper.

One of the prints from the Alsace collection by Jinny Beyer for RJR fabrics. ca. late 1980′s. I do a sketch of the design and send it to the chop designer to refine for making the design in copper.

The design came back and I felt it was too crowded and that the lines would run together. I asked them to simplify it. In the second drawing, it was less lines, but I didn't like the gaps between motifs and asked the the close those gaps. The second revision worked.

The design came back and I felt it was too crowded and that the lines would run together. I asked them to simplify it. In the second drawing, it was less lines, but I didn’t like the gaps between motifs and asked the the close those gaps. The second revision worked.

The final chop in copper and one of the colorations of the batik ovals design.

The final chop in copper and one of the colorations of the batik ovals design.

Oval batik print in various colors from Malam II.

Batik ovals in various colors from the Malam II collection.

Depending upon the intricacies of the design, this can be quite heavy. In the printing process, the chop is dipped into hot wax and then stamped upon the fabric…..all done by hand. The wax preserves the color that is underneath.

Stamping the design onto the cloth after dipping the chop into the hot wax.

Stamping the design onto the cloth after dipping the chop into the hot wax.

If the design is too large, the chop would become too heavy making it difficult for the person doing the stamping.

When selecting designs to use as a batik pattern I look through designs I have previously done and select ones or parts of ones that would create a nice line design, have a small repeat and create an interesting affect. Here are some photos of the original designs and the batik counterparts.

The original design that paisley came from (Corsica collection). There was a faint paisley motif in the background.  And the line drawing used for the batik chop.

The original design that paisley came from (Corsica collection). There was a faint paisley motif in the background. Right is the line drawing used for the batik chop.

Some images of the paisley in batiks.

Some images of the paisley in batiks.

If you are interested in more information about the batik printing process visit my blog about my trip to Indonesia in 2013 to see my batiks being made.