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“Colour helps to express light, not the physical phenomenon, but the only light that really exists, that in the artist’s brain.” – Henri Matisse

There are several techniques for dyeing Batik. The Wissa Wassef Artists use the immersion technique though they may occasionally paint by hand or combine both techniques. The white cloth (100% Egyptian cotton) is first drawn on with hot parafin wax using a "Hanafeya", then immersed in the lightest shade of the chosen colours. The parts of the cloth that have been painted on with wax, don't absorb the colour, so at this first stage, the drawings remain white while the background becomes the first colour it was dyed in. Then it's hung to dry then treated with sodium silicate (a fixing agent). It remains very well wrapped in nylon for 7 to 8 hours to prevent any air bubbles from entering into the wrapped cloth as it causes a stain wherever air is introduced.

The next step is to wash it and hang it again to dry, then it's ready for the next layer of wax and colour. This time the waxed parts will keep the first shade it was immersed in from absorbing any new colour. So the drawings will be of this colour while the background colour changes to the colour resulting from combining the first light shade with the second colour (for eg. if the first colour is yellow and the second blue, the background is now green while the drawings are white and yellow)

The steps above are repeated for fixing the second colour. This process is repeated as many times as the artists want, depending on how colourful the end result is intended to be.

It's a long process to get one Batik piece ready but it must be fixed in every stage of dyeing to prevent the colour from running when washed.

batik hanging to dry between stages of creation
turquoise batik hanging to dry
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