Batik Indonesia produces is of excellent quality, far more than that of other countries. The delicate, detailed, and colorful designs are unsurpassed. The wax-resist method used means colors are strong and pure, and the designs reflect that. Birds, flowers, butterflies and geometric designs are just some of the patterns used. They are all symbolic, and their variety results in almost unlimited variations. It is estimated that currently there are over three thousands patterns available.
Indonesia is the primary producer of these textiles, which are used worldwide in producing garments and home furnishings. Other countries supply them as well, however. A myriad of colors help produce the variety of designs that are available. Colors can be blended or left pure, thus increasing the number of possible combinations.
Resist dying, over one thousand years old, has been fine-tuned by the Indonesians for even more beauty. They make the fabrics use the special dying technique to make the very stylized designs associated with these batik patterns. It is a very involved, multiple-step process. The artist first hand draws the design, showcasing the unique creativity and skill.
Wax-resist dying is used to make these special patterns. After hand-drawing the design on the fabric, the waxing process is started. A tool, called a canting, is used to apply wax to the areas desired to remain free of dye. This implement is simply a copper tube to hold the wax and a spout of varying diameters and lengths to apply it just where wanted, preventing the dye from being absorbed and keeping the original color in that area.
After the dying step is complete, the wax is washed of with hot water and scraped off by hand. After this, the next layer of wax is applied and a new color of dye used. This is repeated for four or more times until all colors are used. A fine, thin spout will be used to trace the wavy lines and dots that are so typical of this style. It takes quite a bit of time and effort to follow all these steps.
The meticulous mixing of the waxes is another part of this artistic method. It used to be that a combination of beeswax and paraffin were used. Beeswax is very pliable and covers completely, keeping out all dye. Paraffin is not so pliable and tends to crack, letting some dye through. This gives the characteristic crackle design of batik designs. Nowadays, however, the typical wax used is a synthetic. It has a combination of traits similar to both the older waxes. Its ability to be reused makes it economically preferable.
Trade routes of old, both North/South routes and East/West routes converged in Indonesia. This exposure to other cultures resulted in more richer design and color as the cultures converged. These improved designs continue into the present time.
Batik Indonesia has developed surpasses all others. Beauty, design, and utility combine to make a unique fabric for home decorating and clothing design. The unique culture of each region is showcased by the trademark designs they have developed over time.