thousands of years colour and pattern have been added
to otherwise plain cloth through the application of
dyes and paints. The methods used have ranged from finger
painting with natural pigments to contemporary computerised
printing. The nature of the designs, however, have been
determined less by the availability of colouring agents
than by the practices, beliefs, legends and fashions
of the cultures that produce them.
textiles are believed to bring luck, some rain, some
protect the wearer from evil spirits, some tell narrative
stories of events and some simply identify clan.
Painting on cloth is one of the freest and most readily
adaptable ways of creating surface pattern on textiles.
Virtually any type of fabric can be hand-painted for
any number of uses. Fabrics can range from sheer silk
to coarse cottons and corduroys. The range of design
is unlimited and the effects which can be achieved are
only limited by the imagination. There are also many
different colouring materials.
Resist dyeing is a means of decorating cloth by
protecting selected areas from dye penetration.
This may be achieved by covering the areas with
a resistant substance, such as wax or rice paste,
or by stitching and tying either the finished
cloth or the yarns from which it is to be woven
(ikat). Even when stamps or stitching are used,
resist dyeing is extremely labour intensive.
is a resist-dye technique. It is practised in
many cultures, including Indonesia, Thailand,
Malaysia, Africa, China and Australia. In Australia,
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
such as Ernabella Arts and Utopia are applying
the technique to the production of fabrics illustrating
traditional and contemporary themes.
most common method of batik is to draw on one
or both sides of a textile with hot wax or rice
paste. After dyeing, the resist material is removed
by boiling, melting or scraping. The process is
repeated for each desired colour.
Glory Ngale uses a tjanting
to apply the wax to the silk.
In printing, coloured designs are applied to the surface
of the cloth in the form of patterns. Colour is usually
applied as paste containing pigments and a binding material.
This is fixed by steaming or heating, and the excess
colour removed by washing. Designs may be printed with
stamps or carved wooden blocks, an art requiring great
skill and accuracy on the part of both printer and block-maker.
Polystyrene blocks are another alternative material
for the block. Silk screen-printing is basically a stencilling
process. The stencil carries the design to be printed.
The screen consists of gauze stretched on a frame.
Francesca Puruntatameri (left) and
Thecla Puruntatameri screen-print fabric at Munupi
Arts on Melville Island. (Desart, 2001: 43)
Photo: Barry Skipsey. Courtesy: Barry Skipsey.
a motif inspired by the Australian bush. Consider
the colour ways you could use:
colour harmonies, such as
colour harmonies, such as
- split complementary
the design to fabric using batik, screen-printing
or hand-painting. Hand-painting techniques could
include using twigs as brushes, straws for blowing
paints, or leaves, grasses or seeds as imprints.
which technique was most appropriate for the motif.