Handwriting stamped batik scarf

Instead of applying the wax by hand with the canting, the wax resist is applied with a stamp made of copper, called a cap (tchap). The dye is indigo.

Love scarf, indigo on silk

IMG-20140522-00328

P7068551

 

 

 

Making a “Love” cap

I tried my hand at using the canting to write with wax  but it is a long and difficult process. My friend Asif suggested that I ask his friend who is a skilled tukang cap to make a “Love”stamp. I was skeptical that it could be done. Having never seen how a stamp, called a cap (pronounced tchap), is made,  I was amazed at the skill and craftsmanship that goes into it. Here are some photos of the process.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA IMG-20140522-00328 IMG-20140523-00334 IMG-20140523-00337 IMG-20140523-00341

The women of Kebon Indah

What a joy to visit these lovely artisans in Kebon, Klaten, Central Java. Their work is beautiful and their spirit spirit is inspiring. They are a collective (kelompok) of 169 women from a group of small villages who have joined together, pooling their resources to make batik using only natural ingredients gathered locally to color their creations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Batik Indigo, deeper and darker in Pekalongan

My friend and colleague, Solikhin , has been working very hard over the past three years since I saw him last. Still focused on indigo, never finding an easy solution by way of chemical dye, Solikhin has come a long way toward opening up the richness and versatility of indigo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

This is an example of the colors he derives by overdyeing with other natural vegetable dyes on a cloth that is first dyed with indigo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Solikhin creates his own designs and does his own coloring. He does however rely on some very skilled artisans to apply the wax to the cloth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This cloth is colored with indigo and overdyed with jelawe the fruit of a certain tree.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis batik is colored purely with indigo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Celup, celup, celup

The darkest indigo batik I have ever seen is from the workshop of Hanafi natural dyer in Pekalongan Central Java. This is a clip from his workshop.

A batik of the deepest blue may need more than 100 celup (dips) and take many weeks to produce.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The natural colors of wild silk

The natural color of the silk threads from the cocoons of wild silkworms vary in color as the result of  what they eat. Domestic silkworms, Bombix mori, prefer the  leaves of the white mulberry http://www.designboom.com/history/silk1.html, but they will eat other types of mulberry leaves such as those from the red mulberry or black mulberry tree.   Domestic silkworms will also eat the leaves of  the osage orange http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osage_orange. Silkworms found in the wild however have adapted to eating particular kinds of leaves, and they produce a silk thread that is much different from the silkworms that are cultivated domestically.

Two examples of wild silkworms cocoons that are found in Java, Indonesia are from  the Cricula tritenastrata (left) and the  Atacus atlas Linn(right).  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Cricula can be found in the wild eating the leaves of the kedondong tree, and those of the avocado tree. It also eats the leaves of the mango tree the cashew nut tree, and almond tree. It produces a beautiful golden thread that is very strong and has a unique thick to thin texture that gives the cloth woven from it an incredibly luxurious hand. The color of the filament varies from cream to rich golden hues, the darkest  outside to the lightest inside the cocoon. The naturally variegated color is very durable and when woven produces a subtle variation in color that any master weaver would envy. (below)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The other type of wild silk  is from the amazingly beauitiful  Atacus  atlas Linn  silkmoth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9r9Laslf4hcIt      . produces a cocoon that has a thread similar to the Cricula tritenestrata but in varying shades of cream to dark brown. It eats the leaves of the sirsak, keben, gempol, mahogony, rambutan, kedondong, avocado, and guava.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I recently visited Pak Endro Kuswardjo in Yogyakarta who started working with wild silk over ten years ago. He has developed a unique relationship with wild silk producers in West Java to provide his workshop, Tugu Mas Yogya,  with the very finest wild silk from which his master weavers can make scarves and shawls. The silk is rare and costly, so he produces a very limited number. I was fortunate  to visit on a day that he had just brought in a new supply, so there will be some wonderful examples of his silk scarves and shawls woven from wild silk available in the special exhibition “Sutera” during The Language of Cloth annual winter pop-up shop in december in San Francisco. http://www.thelanguageofcloth.com/pop-up-shop-dec-2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pop-up Shop September 27,28,29

Before Pop-up
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

-you textile enthusiasts, friends, and supporters for coming to this three-day run of The Language of Cloth Pop-up

Shop.

Batik tulis, written in wax

Tulis literally translated means “written” , so batik tulis is batik that is drawn or written, by hand. The canting is the pen used for “writing” batik tulis. Melted wax is the ink.The canting is a subtle tool and requires patience and practice to master. My application of those two principles is beginning to show results. I hope eventually to use the canting as freely and expressively as I use a pen. These are photographs of some scarves waxed with written words. The cloth is a hand woven raw silk from Phnom Sruk Province in Cambodia, and it has already been dyed once in vegetable dyes. it will be over dyed again with indigo to produce various shades of blue, grey, and green.

The scarves will serve as prayer banners, mantras, prayer shawls, or altar cloths.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Batik cap from Cirebon and Pekalongan, Java

Batik cap is a wax resist process in which designs are applied in wax with “cap”, stamps usually made of copper for their heat conductive properties. It has been produced in Java since the middle of the 19th century to speed up the production and lower the cost of batik cloth. Batik originated in the keraton, or royal palaces of the sultans, and the wax resist designs were applied by hand with the a canting, a pen-like tool with a reservoir and spout from which lines of melted wax could be drawn. It is a highly skilled craft and takes a long time to make. Batik cap requires less skill and is much faster to produce.

Batik is a living art throughout Indonesia and is considered not only a national treasure, but is designated by Unesco to be an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Most Indonesians however cannot afford batik tulis, the hand-drawn type, so batik cap is a low cost alternative. Producing it is still a labor intensive process requiring patience and skill. It’s done usually by men. Boys learn the skill at an early age and with experience can produce perfectly registered designs without the use of drawing guide lines or measuring. There are many variables in applying the perfect application of wax to achieve clarity and precision in the waxed design. The formulation of the wax itself is a guarded recipe, and the temperature has to be just right, the amount of wax on the cap just the right amount, and the speed of the application timed to perfection. The registration is the most difficult part of the work. Some designs require the use of a combination of several cap, and some intricate floral bouquet designs can have as many as 10 or 12 different cap to complete the design. The cap can be works of art in their own right, and the cap-makers are highly skilled in this specialized art.

I have traveled along the north coast of Java to look at batik cap production and these are some of the photos from various trips over the years to workshops in Cirebon and Pekalongan.

 

Textile and Tribal Arts Show, San Francisco 2013

In February I had the privilege of assisting Rudolf Smend again with his collection of extraordinary antique Javanese batik exhibited at the annual Textile and Tribal arts Show at For Mason in San Francisco. Mr. Smend is the owner of Galerie Smend, a textile gallery in Cologne, Germany, and is the author of several books on batik.

This rare batik portrait of a young woman dressed in western clothing is dated 1933, from Banyuwangi. It’s origin was the subject of much speculation during the exhibition. It was one of many rare and beauitful batik cloths presented in February of this year at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA