Olena Lylak has been batiking since she was three years old. The daughter of post-WWII displaced Ukrainians, Olena grew up in England where she began her lifelong study of batik dyeing.

“It’s an ancient art form,” says Olena, whose love for batik stems from her Ukrainian heritage.

Batik (pronounced BAH-TEEK) is a form of fabric dyeing using hot wax, which is painted onto the fabric strategically to prevent the dye from bleeding. The art form’s first historical appearance may have been in Egypt in the 4th century BC when wax-soaked linen was wrapped around mummies. The Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes, helped facilitate cultural diffusion making it possible for the tradition to reach Korea, China, Japan, and eventually the western world (and Spectrum Creative Arts!).

Olena encourages her students to select designs that inspire them.

For her next project, Molly, a student of Olena’s, will use a variety of brightly colored dyes to depict a cat. She attributes her choice of imagery to her love for rainbows and animals.

Olena and Molly work together to choose an image for Molly’s next project.

Olena and Molly work together to choose an image for Molly’s next project.

Olena and her students employ different techniques to manipulate the wax and dye to achieve desired textures and aesthetics. For example, once the final layer of dye has had enough time to dry and any protective wax has been removed, artists often outline their images with a fine stylus brush for extra definition.

Melissa puts the finishing touches on her piece by outlining her design with a fine brush.

Melissa puts the finishing touches on her piece by outlining her design with a fine brush.

Acrylic paint can also be applied to dry fabric to make certain images stand out, which is the case in Ellie’s depiction of Belle:

batik-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ellie and Olena pose with Ellie’s batik project.

Ellie and Olena pose with Ellie’s batik project.

No two batik pieces are alike. The nuances of the dye and the fabric and the way they interact with each other make each piece distinctly unique. Are you interested in learning more about batik and its endless possibilities? Looking for that perfect, personalized, handmade holiday gift? We are currently accepting new students for Olena’s batik class, which meets Saturdays from 11am – 12pm. Click here to register today!