Batik Techniques: Discharge Dye Technique

Discharge dyeing in batik refers to a sort of reverse process in making batik. Instead of the traditional wax-colour-remove wax process, they utilize the colour-wax-remove colour method. In this manner a negative image is formed, whereby the dark design is contrasted with the lighter background. As such, darker colours tend to have a more contrasting effect as compared to a lighter colour. This is a more contemporary method employed by batik artists in their works. Probably the only drawback of this technique is that the artist cannot use the discharge technique too much as the bleach weakens the cloth, making it vulnerable to rips.

A dilution of bleach is needed for this. The ratio of bleach to water is entirely up to the artist because it varies from brand to brand. Normally it is around 1 part bleach to 5 parts water. Once the effect wanted is achieved, a neutralizing solution must be used to stop the corrosive bleach. It is done through rinsing the fabric in water and then soaking it in a solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 10 parts water for 10 minutes. Some artists might use a solution of 1 teaspoon anti-chlorine per litre of water. Once the fabric is neutralized, it must be washed in warm soapy water, rinsed and dried.


How is this effect achieved?

1. The 4 solutions needed are prepared. For the discharge spray, a ratio of 1:1 in bleach and water is used. The discharge solution for discharging whole pieces of cloth is mixed at ratio of 1:4. A bucket of rinse water and a bucket of vinegar diluted with water is prepared as well.


2. Arrange the materials to form patterns. This will function as a resist against the bleach. In the case of batik, wax will be the resist.




3. Once the cloth’s colour has been bleached (or in more technical terms, discharged) to the desired effect, rinse it in water and then the solution of vinegar to stop the bleach from working any further into the cloth.


4. A finished product that uses this technique.






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