After our move to California, I quickly joined the San Francisco Artist Alliance when I was looking not only for show and gallery space, but for a way to share my interest in batik with local children and other community members. I had never entertained the thought of becoming a teacher of any sort and had no real desire to start that career now, even on a part-time basis, but without a teaching degree and certificate, my opportunities for going into actual schools to teach my craft were limited at best.
Most simply, batik is the art of using wax on fabric to create negative design space before dyeing the fabric. After the fabric has been dyed and dried, the wax is then removed using a combination of scraping and heat. Batik-treated fabrics can then be turned into beautiful clothing, various soft home décor pieces and very often, are frame-mounted and hung as gorgeous works of art.
Joining the Artist Alliance has given me the ability to set up a steady schedule of classes for everyone in the community to enjoy. I have been invited to several schools in the district as a guest lecturer and to demonstrate my art to the children. The younger kids enjoy scraping out designs and pictures on fabric I have already covered in wax, while my older students are able to handle the hot wax and apply it directly to the fabric themselves. The best part, however, especially when teaching those new to the art, is their amazement when they see the fabric after it has been dyed. It is often very difficult to see the beauty created when working with light-colored wax on white muslin so I keep projects small, that can then be dyed in class, for children to be able to see their results quickly. Once they see what they created, almost blindly on their wax-covered “canvas,” they are always eager to try bigger and more complex projects.
The Artist Alliance is a great resource for those new to the area to find interesting gallery and performing art venues, as well as locating classes and workshops for real hands-on experiences in many different mediums.