Both Batik and discharge are resist techniques, using either wax or paste to cover parts of the material before it is dyed. Usually an artisan, using a wood block with a hand-carved pattern on one side and a handle on the other, applies the substance. Sometimes the artisans use brushes to create freehand designs.
To batik print, first the fabric is laid out on a table, which has been padded to improve registration. Next the block is lightly dipped in hot wax and stamped onto the fabric. When this fabric is then dyed, the areas covered with wax or paste do not absorb the dye, although they typically show small “cracks” of color where some dye has seeped in. Next, the cloth is dipped many times in hot water and squeezed to remove all the resist substance. When clear, the fabric is dyed a second color, and the areas formerly covered with wax or paste take up this dye.
It is a challenge to mix the dyes, as the second color will cover and change the first. They only know for sure after the second dyeing whether the shade is right. Weather is another complication as it can affect the interaction of the dye with the fabric. The preciseness of mixing the dyes and the enormous expertise of the fabric producers overcomes such obstacles, and the results are totally worth the extra efforts.