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Beautiful hand-painted batiks.



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A Dyeing Art


Thai dyer Jaruwan Ponmak takes a painterly approach to her beautiful batiks

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The ancient art of batik printing sounds simple: Using melted wax and a brush or metal tool, execute a design on a natural fabric, then plunge it into a dye bath. The waxed areas resist the dye, creating a pattern. For a multicolored piece, dye the lightest color first, then use wax to block areas you don¡¯t wish to absorb dye in succeeding baths. When you¡¯re done, boil the fabric to remove the wax.


Well, maybe not so simple after all, as one glance at textile designer Jaruwan Ponmak¡¯s painterly designs reveal. Ponmak, who is from Thailand, studied traditional Thai painting at the School of Fine Arts in Bangkok, planning to become an artist. ¡°Then in my last year, I realized that I¡¯d have to make a living,¡± she recalls. A course in textile design (¡°very basic¡±) followed that revelation, and after she graduated in 1988, helped get her a job with the renowned Bangkok firm, Jim Thompson: The Thai Silk Company.


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Ponmak, who is known as Oi ¡ª (¡°All Thai people have a nickname,¡± she says) ¡ª learned weaving and printing at Thai Silk, moved to another textile company to learn jacquard, then went on to design hand-tufted carpets. In 1995, she met her future husband, John Meder, an American architecture consultant then teaching at the University of Thailand.


After the couple came home to Port Jervis, Orange County, in 1997, Oi set up her gallery and resumed her favorite form of painting: batiks. It¡¯s a time-consuming process. ¡°One piece, about 40 by 40 inches, can take three or four days,¡± she remarks.


Prices for pillow covers, table linens or wallhangings depend on fabric and complexity of design. Commissions are happily accepted. Oi also offers classes for two students at a time at her studio.


For more information contact Oi Gallery at 845-856-2224. ¡ñ

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