Batik Painting

A Week of Batik (learning textile painting the cool way in Kuala Lumpur)

My stories and adventures can’t be written if I don’t sit down and do it! I have a long list I’ve been putting off and this quote inspired me to just start.

Done is better than perfect.

So I’m currently living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and my bestie & partner in crime Lo and I have recently discovered this thing called Batik. Lo has lived here two years and can’t believe she’s never seen this on the many Facebook Expat Group to-do lists or Expat Magazines “must see”! Batik has been gently lurking in the shadows waiting for us to find and get our paint on.

WHAT IS BATIK? Batik is over in Central Asia and India side of the world and is the art of decorating on cloth. It has been practiced for 100’s of years. You hand draw, hand pour hot wax from these crazy little pipes and then paint the cloth using fabric dye. Stencils and stamps can be used nowadays to speed the process. The more water you use with your paint the lighter the color you get.

Do you like doing crafts but don’t feel like you can be an artist? -WRONG- You can with Batik. Especially at Ainna Artwork at Central Market near Chinatown in KLCC. They have options as little as 20 RM (or $4.50 USD) to choose from. This was our first attempt and how we got hooked. This is the first place to start. It’s small, you can learn how the paint works and it’s cheap and fast. Artwork is already hand drawn and the wax is drawn so all you have to do is dip your brush water down the saturated dye and get your paint on. You can work on blending different colors or just enjoy the therapeutic zen zone you find yourself in. It’s almost like paint by number because the wax prevents your paint from bleeding into the next section.

We had so much fun we ended up placing an order to paint a bigger art piece. You have to put 50 RM as down payment and wait a few days for them to draw and wax.

First Batik Attempt

So while we were waiting for our creation to be drawn Lo researched and found this place called Jadi Batik. It’s warehouse big and one of the larger batik centers in Kulala Lumpur. Lot’s of tourist buses come here. If you really want to buy higher quality clothing, fabric, or silks go here. Someone told me they are overpriced but I’ve purchased clothing and items at the smaller booths in various places and different areas and the quality is so much better and will last so much longer. I’ve had stuff that has ripped after one wear. Quality over quantity will win every time. Don’t have time to paint? Just go buy a beautiful silk scarf or an apron or robe. (I personally love things I can use so bought an apron.)

So we were under the impression (since it worked that way at the other art place) you just pick an already drawn and waxed creation and just paint. NOT SO. You have to DO IT ALL. Which seemed really intimidating at first but when you are finished it is such a rewarding feeling. Now I have a bit more experience in art than Lauren, but she is fearless and got some help with the pros. Lo went big and did a silk scarf, and I so regret choosing the smaller silk handkerchief. “Go BIG or go home Sarah!” She always tells me. One day I will listen to her.

So you have to wait a day and they bake or do their magic to melt the wax off and seal the paint so it doesn’t bleed. The next day we got to pick up our creations.

Now I’m flying back to America for a couple of months so this last week has been party week for me. Some people go to bars, while others paint. Last up we got the call that our seaside shacks were finished being drawn and waxed. Feeling like pros we conquered our creations around 2 hours.

Yes on the easier side of things it is glorified paint by number, but it is OH SO FUN PEOPLE. Whether you are drawing from scratch or getting a brain break from all those worries give Batik a try.



About the author

Besides being pretty quirky, I try to cook cleaner and work on graphic design when I'm not taking care of my two stellar tiny tot daughters age 3 and 1. I paint for fun, contemplate life a lot, laugh loudly, go on bike rides, and try to experience hygge. I'm far from perfect, and I'm working on being kinder both to myself and others in this world.

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