Hot Designs: Chinese Wax Printing
Chinese wax printing is a special Chinese handicraft
typical of ethnic characteristics and local styles. As one of the most antique
handworks, it is perceived as an important part of China's ancient civilization.
Originating in the Qin
(221-206BC) and Han (206BC-AD220)
dynasties and prevailing in the Sui
(581-618) and Tang
dynasties (618-907), wax printing, which been passed down from one generation to
the next in China, is a uniquely inspired drawing and dyeing handwork of the Miao
ethnic minority. Today, wax printing is mainly distributed among the ethnic
minority areas of Guizhou,
provinces. In the course of its development, the art acquired its unique folk
artistic features and is one of the most characteristic national arts in China.
Called "laran" in Chinese, wax printing is a way of
decorating fabric by covering parts of it with a coat of wax and then dyeing it.
Beeswax is the main ingredient but other resins can also be used. To make a wax
printing, certain areas of the fabric are selected and blocked out by brushing
or drawing wax that has been heated in a little pot over the cloth; the cloth is
then dyed different colors. The parts covered by wax resist the dye and retain
their original hues. This process of waxing and dyeing can be repeated to create
more elaborate and colorful designs. After the final dyeing the wax is removed
and the fabric is prepared for usage or display. The wax printings can be framed
and, if used properly, can make any house or office more unique and inviting.
The raw materials used in wax dyeing are pure cotton
fabrics; the usual tools used for applying wax include a piece of copper and
brass with bamboo handles. They are made from two small triangular pieces of
metal, with their apexes bound to a bamboo holder by a copper wire. It is held
like a pen either upright or on a slant in relation to the cloth, which is laid
flat on a board. This tool is convenient for drawing straight or slightly curved