eat the salt


July 26, 2011

Batik Class, Jakarta

So today was my second day in Jakarta visiting my parents! I'll be here for a little over a month. We'll be going to Singapore, and when my sister and her boyfriend join us, we're all going to Bali and other parts of Indonesia. This week we're taking it easy.

Today my mom and I visited the Musim Tekstil in Jakarta, which showcased some amazing batik. Batik is the traditional fabric of Indonesia, decorated using wax and dye. Different motifs and colors hold different social implications/regional significance. Unfortunately, there were no captions detailing any of the pieces (I would have liked to know more about the different methods used), and some areas were terribly lit. We whizzed through the main section of the museum in a mere ten minutes, the second in probably fifteen-twenty. My mom said it's funny how so much money is put into shopping malls but not the museums. Cool experience either way.

The museum offers batik classes, which we, of course, hopped on. The class cost less than $10 for the two of us combined! Amazing.

The workshop was this nice naturally lit, sort of open air room. We first chose our motifs from a pile of probably forty. I had feared having to BS my own batik design, you know, just because I wanted to focus more on understanding the method. We then traced the design with pencil onto a white cotton square. The pencil lines disappear by the end of the whole process.

We put our squares into embroidery hoops and sat down to trace back over our lines with a tjanting, a wooden handled tool with a tiny metal cup with a tiny spout, out of which the wax seeps. My mom and I both spilled a few drops of wax on the fabric. I also spilled wax from the tjanting onto my hand twice (I'm not talking a few drops), and kind of killed. The girl helping us/our instructor gave me what I am guessing was some aloe vera gel. Spilling must not be uncommon.

We traced our designs with the wax on both the front and back (something I found annoying because it's hard to tell what parts you have and have not gone over on the back). Batik is a wax resist dyeing technique, which means all parts not covered with wax get dyed.

Shit is tedious!


Our instructor painted wax around the edges of our squares. After it dried, she cracked the wax with her hands. You'll see why later, though I'm sure you can guess.

We didn't have to get our hands dirty with dyeing. Not that the first part wasn't messy enough. It didn't take long for the dye to take.

My mom's piece. Our instructor suggested we write our names on the side. Easier said than done, my friend.

Haha, see the drips? Anyway, I thought the cracked wax came out awesome!

So it turns out that batik is a headache-inducing craft that demands patience and fine attention to detail (both of which I apparently lack), but if you take your time, you can come up with something quite beautiful (which I didn't). Not sure if I'll be filling up a tjanting with hot wax any time soon, but this experience has opened my mind to wax resist dyeing techniques... The wax-cracking thing seems manageable.

No comments:

Post a Comment