Traditional Indian textile craft of Batik Printing - Celebrate @ E2Expo
Kutch has long been an established centre for Batik, a wax resist dyeing and block printing craft also practiced in Indonesia among some other cultures. In the age of fashion fashion and laser printing in garment production, Khamir Foundation and Shakeel Ahmed Khatri, a batik artist are trying to revive and mordenise the old art form.
Khamir Foundation serves as a platform for the promotion of traditional handicrafts and allied cultural practices, the processes involved in their creation, and the preservation of culture, community and local environments. The organisation works to strengthen and promote the rich artisanal traditions of Kachchh district. Our name stands for Kachchh Heritage, Art, Music, Information and Resources.
Shakeel Ahmed Khatri is one of the known batik artisans in the Kachchh district. He hails from a family that have practised the batik printing art form for several generations and is now looking for ways to revive the art form for current design practises.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Batik printing is rendering cracks into the design. For this, fabric is folded in specific ways before dyeing and when re-opened post dyeing, it renders “mania-like" cracks in the colour specified by the designer or the dyer.
Shakeel Ahmed Khatri received his design and entrepreneurial education at Kala Raksha Vidyalaya under the tutelage of Judy Frater, a crafts visionary and teacher, an American who made Kutch her home. Through his education in Kala Raksha, Shakeel began to improvise, using deep mustards with earth colours, pale lilacs with leaf greens, working on gradations of black and red, challenging traditional dots, geometry and floral patterns to create newer shapes and patterns through blocks. Besides cotton textiles as the base and sometimes a handwoven textile, he has begun using chamois satin and chanderi, even tussar silk for Batik printing.
A white cloth is taken and de-starched by soaking overnight in a soda water, and is subsequently washed. The wax covers the design, which then resists the dye. Wax is also used as a resist on those parts of the fabric which will be dyed a shade different from the base colour. The natural hairline cracks in the wax coating give the characteristic effect of batik. Shakeel identifies that as the ‘character of batik’. The look is spontaneous, dappled and unique, giving the fabric a remarkable look. Shakeel adds that thinner fabric is more effective for creating a sharp design.