I have been so lucky with my workshops, and this one was no exception; it was thoroughly enjoyable.
Nature In Art, as always, a great venue and host. The workshop is part of their art course programme and I have done several with them over the last few years. This year I tutored a lovely group of 9 ladies.
On day one, I took them through the batik process and we did a step by step ‘practise’ piece of a pansy head. The thinking behind this was for them to learn to use the tjantings in a controlled way, to see the effects of applying successive colours and to follow the process along with me hopefully helping the method to sink in.
I chose a pansy head as the patterns are quite variable and so allowing each student some leeway on detailing, errors and personal interpretation without any of the finished pieces looking wrong when completed. Then I let them decide whether they needed more ‘practise’ or to spend the rest of the afternoon drawing up their masterpiece for the next day.
Day two and it was onto the masterpieces. This is the day I really love – when I see each student making their way, some more successively than others, through the process, making sense of it with their chosen subject matter and then steaming ahead.
As I walk around and the colours start singing out from the cotton I can see their subjects forming and I find it as exciting to watch someone build a piece up as it is to do one myself. At times it’s like being a child again and watching as Mum, or I, would brush water over the special book’s page with its printed drawing and colours suddenly appeared.. of course by magic!
There were some difficulties as the cool, damp weather kept the cotton on the cold side, which in turn cooled the wax as it came off the brushes and tjantings far more quicker than I would have liked. I thought August would be a good warm/hot month and problems like that would not occur and hamper the students work…. hmmmm… not this year! I had to try and keep a close eye on each students piece to check and point out when the wax hadn’t taken well and needed to be done again.
As always there are those that struggle to get their head round the light to dark, ‘suicide’ method of working and there are also those that grasp the concept quickly. And yet they are all equally keen and at times I would smile at the silence as they all slavishly worked over their batik frames. One or two even managed to get onto a second piece and finish it before the day was over… and there were one or two that just needed that little extra bit of time to complete it. Staying a little later is no problem for me, I couldn’t bear to send them away with a piece almost, but not quite, done.
And as always I am proud and pleased by the work they produce. Two days to learn and familiarise yourself with a new technique and then produce a finished piece, is a lot to do in such a short amount of time. But they all did it admirably and I hope they enjoyed the weekend as much as I did.
Here you can see some of the students working on their batiks. In the foreground they are applying either colour or wax to the stretched cotton and the two ladies behind are drying the fabric with hairdryers.
On the table surrounding the central waxpot is an array of brushes, tjantings, silk paints, water pots, kitchen roll and pipettes.