Originally, silk painting was traditionally done by Asians and they used a wax resist method of drawing and adding tone and texture to their paintings, called Batik. I actually worked with such an artist for three days in Singapore as part of my art scholarship. It was wonderful, but it actually turned me off ever wanting to try silk painting! It was so complex. Wax was used to build up different tones by blocking areas where a change in colour was not needed. Then the wax had to be removed before progressing.
These days, westerners remove the wax by ironing it off onto sheets of newspaper. But it takes ages and always leaves a certain stiffness to the silk. The artist I worked with in Singapore used to set his dyes with an acid bath; I found this really scary.
It wasn’t until gutta (liquid rubber) was introduced for line drawing and I could paint the tones and textures I wanted, that I decided to try it out – and I was hooked! I gave up my oil painting and have never looked back.
A Tjanting is a copper bowl attached to a handle with a fine nozzle for drawing with. You fill the bowl from the melted wax that you have prepared. It does take a great deal of practice to get the hang of using this tool!