I would like you to meet my friend Bu Dalmini. She inspires me. She is the founder and director of a group of 169 women from five villages nearby the ancient temples of Prambanan in Central Java. They make beautiful batik.
In 2004 an earthquake devastated these villages. Many people died. The thriving village batik home industry that supported the families that lived there was destroyed too. With help of two Indonesian organizations, Java Reconstruction Fund, and Indonesia Organization for Migration, and Bu Dalmini’s determination, Kebon Indah Batik Group got started. These are some of their batik.
Their homes and workshops were destroyed, and their markets for batik evaporated when they could not produce batik. They needed cloth, wax, tools, and a place to work. They started from scratch and they asked Bu dalmini to be their leader.
They decided to organize by village under one banner, Kebon Indah . They also decided after such a violent awakening to the power of mother nature, to be as gentle as they could be with the natural environment by using only dyes they can make from the trees and leaves around them.
They built a workshop with an adjacent showroom/workshop.
The workshop is open air with a view of the rice fields that surround the village.
Every member of the group can do each job required for the finished batik, from drawing on the cloth with pencil, waxing the cloth with the tjanting tool, coloring in the dye bath, to removing the wax in the last stage. Of course there are women who develop special skills in particular areas. Bu Dalmini keeps it all organized and together with Bu Sri, markets the batik in trade shows and traditional markets all over Indonesia.
This is a typical work schedule for the week.
The motifs are inspired by the natural surroundings, trees, birds, animals, and sawah. Traditional and very meaningful motifs such as parang rusak, Kawung, and sekar jagad are reinterpreted in unique ways and worked into their designs. The batik begins by drawing the basic design with pencil on the cloth.
The designs are inspired by the beauty of the natural environment and the the familiar daily activities of the village.
Most of the women have been making batik since they were at their mother’s sides as children. Bu Sri on the right is a skilled batik artisan and skilled in marketing.
They take great pride in their work. They share in the benefits that batik brings to their communities and want to insure that the quality is maintained.
Here the nut from the Terminalia catappa is being boiled to produce a rich chocolate brown dye.
This pot is full of mango leaves cooking to make a rich yellow color.
Some women bring their children to the workshop when there is a holiday from school.
This is a cloth that will be cut lengthwise into two long scarves when it is finished. It is an order of a special design from The Language of Cloth.
This is a scarf that has just had the wax removed. It is from a series of overlapping leaf designs, a collaboration with Bu Dalmini of The Language of Cloth.
Taking the wax out of the cloth is the last step. The cloth is immersed into a kettle of boiling water with cassava starch.
Some women take the work home with them to do between house chores and taking care of family.
This is certainly a pattern requiring a patience and devotion. It is inspired by grains of rice.
On this particular day the women wore their best clothing, made from their own batik. They knew they were being photographed.