Let’s talk about batik stamp or batik cap or batik tjap (Traditional Indonesian writing). The Indonesian word ‘cap’ directly translates to ‘stamp’ in English. A rather unfortunate translation as one could easily be mistaken that we are talking about postal stamps with batik pattern applied on it if we aren’t careful.
So no, you can’t send your mail with batik stamp. And it does not mean the batik pattern is simply stamped like a hot transfer paint job either. Just like the traditional batik tulis or written batik, batik stamps are created through a wax-resist method. In this case, wax is applied by stamping the fabric instead of using a pipe-like tool called ‘canting’. This method is much more efficient than the hand-written method when creating largely repeated motifs.
The first step of Batik Stamp creation starts with the design. The designer would draw their idea on paper and pass it on to the copper plate stamps maker. The stamps makers usually specialise in this part of the process and ends up making stamps day in day out for various batik makers. The size of the copper plate itself is averaging at 20 x 20 cm, with a handle at the top for the batik maker to hold with one hand.
Once the copper plates are done, the batik maker would then start prepping the fabric. Either on a virgin fabric or one that’s been through one dye. The plate is then dipped in hot liquid wax and meticulously applied to the fabric with one hand. The other hand would either be holding the fabric in place or praying that there will be no smudge. No, I kid. The other hand is always holding the fabric in place. The precision of stamp positioning is astounding. There is almost a rhythm into the way the stamps are applied.
For designs that only require the same motif from one plate, one plate is used for the whole fabric. For more complicated design, more plates will be used to create them. Just think of how our forefathers used to create newspaper prior digital printers. They would match each alphabet stamp to create a word, a sentence, a paragraph and a column.
Once the wax is dry, the fabric will be dipped into the chosen coloured dye. Once dried, the fabric will be cooked once again in hot water to get rid of the dried wax. Rinse and repeat. And there you have it.