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Arty Fine Line Designs And Images On Fabrics

By Expert Author: menaka poonam

There are some places in India where hand painting on sarees is done, Kalamkari in Andhra Pradesh, Hand painted tribal art of Chattisgarh and other locations to name a couple. Pen Batik is a more universal practice but is also appreciated for its exquisite outcomes.

Kalamkari, meaning craftsmanship through the use of a pen, is an ethnic art involving hand-painting or block printing on Sarees. There are two well-known and different styles of Kalamkari, namely – the Machilipatnam style and the Srikalahasti style, still prevalent in places by these names.

Kalamkari painting is an arduous process of dyeing and hand printing. Several stages of washing and treatment to the fabric prior to the painting and after it, is undergone before the final product is ready.

Srikalahasti Style, was influenced by Hindu scriptures and mythology. It mostly has subjects of Gods, temple hangings, epic scenes and other religious themes, in its ‘Kalamkari’. Certain marked features of this style are simplicity, good use of colour with some colours given prominence, sharpness in the depictions, and the use of motifs.
The Machilipatnam style having Islamic influence uses more of flora and fauna as themes in its work. Natural dyes are employed for colours, in Kalamkari, with cotton, silk, crepe, georgette being the usual fabrics as canvas for this art. Motifs with trees, creepers, flowers, leaves, birds are popular.

The hand painting tribal ethnic art of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Bengal and Orissa demonstrates the fine craft executed with finesse. The tribal artisans paint patterns, motifs, scenes from the epics, tribal dancing, wedding scenes, ordinary village life, animals, birds, floral designs and other subjects and themes on fabrics like pure silk, cotton and sico.
They transfer themes onto fabrics using locally available materials, vegetable and organic dyes. They make use of elementary methods of drawing and tracing on the fabric and then painting on them. The beauty of such art lies in the craftsmanship in fine detailing, right colour combinations, and extraordinarily neat finish that speaks volumes about their unique skills.

Batik is a process using ‘resists’ for making designs on a fabric. The resist or physical block prevents desired areas on the fabric from being penetrated by dye. Generally wax is used as a resist in Batik.

The rarer type of Batik is Pen Batik. Fine designs are made on the fabric using ‘Tjanting’ tools. Molten Wax at a certain temperature is carefully put on the design lines with a Batik dropper pen. The fabric is then dyed in a small tub of prepared colour dye. A lot of care has to be taken since too thin a layer of wax could give way to colour dye through the surface cracks.

Temperature of the wax is normally kept between 200 and 230 degrees. A small tub with hot water is generally preferred to melt away the wax. After the wax has melted away in hot water, a neatly dyed and designed fabric is available.

The copper block developed in Indonesia has revolutionized block printing of designs and intricate patterns en-masse on fabrics which has brought about commercial mass production of batik printed fabrics. Not only is time saved but there is a drastic reduction in the cost of such fabrics.

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