A couple of weeks ago I attended my first workshop at Guthrie and Ghani in Moseley. Having visited on their opening day and had a nose at their upstairs studio, I was keen to go back and try a class there. A friend at work was attending a Batik Taster Session so I decided to tag along.
The course was run by Layla Tutt who is a local batik artist and, as she told us herself, first and foremost a rock chick and musician. Layla introduced us to batik by showing a number of her own works as well as pieces created in previous teaching sessions she has run with children.
(Batik pieces by Layla Tutt)
Layla then introduced us to the tools of the trade. The key tool is the tjanting which is used to create outlines in hot wax. This wax serves as a resist, creating an area protected from the paint which is then applied.
We were given the opportunity to dye either one large or four small pieces of batik. I went for the one larger piece but it did mean that my very first attempt was my only attempt, and by the time I had got to grips with the tjanting I had run out of fabric. On a single layer image (which was all that was really possible in a short session as we didn’t have enough time to allow the paint to dry) batik can be quite a quick technique. However, Layla stressed that a large, multi-layered image can take a long time to create; largely due to waiting for each layer to dry before starting the next. The tjanting appeared to be one of those tools that does take a bit of getting used (wax coming out too fast, not enough wax coming out, etc) so it was difficult to achieve much in a short session, but it was good fun to have a go. I really enjoyed it but think I’ll probably stick to lino/screen printing and direct fabric painting at home due to the additional barriers of getting to grips with batik (the need to purchase a wax pot and tjanting, and to learn a new technique).
Anyway, here is my batik piece from the evening. As I said, I only had one piece of fabric so I made use of every inch to squash on a fair few patterns and colours. Layla mainly creates floral patterns and her pieces inspired us to do the same – I think every single member of the class painted flowers!
Having finished painting my piece of fabric quite early in the evening I took advantage of the opportunity to pop downstairs into the Guthrie & Ghani shop to do some shopping. I treated myself to some lovely Sevenberry fabric which I’m in the process of making into a blouse with a peter pan collar. Assuming I don’t slack off and spend too much time watching TV / reading blogs you’ll be seeing it very soon.