Bu Dalmini (center), a batik artist who directs a collective of 169 women in the village of Bayat near the famous 9th century Hindu temple of Prambanan who make batik, came to the US last January for the first time last January. She led a talented group of textile enthusiasts in a batik workshop at The Language of Cloth studio in San Francisco. She introduced them to the traditional batik-making process practiced in Java for centuries.
Batik is a wax resist process in which melted wax is applied to a cloth in a certain pattern or design, and then the cloth is immersed in a dye bath.When the wax is removed the areas that were covered have not taken up the dye and the pattern is revealed. This batik workshop offered the participants the experience of learning the batik process in the same way that young girls learn it from their mothers in Java.
Here Kristine Vejar of A Verb For Keeping Warm is applying wax to an indigo dyed cloth. It will be dyed a second time to produce a darker shade of blue before removing the wax. The lines where the was was removed will be a lighter shade of blue.
It’s the second day of the batik workshop and the personal projects are taking shape.
Bu Dalmini assured us that there are no mistakes that are not useful in the learning process. In Java, young girls learn the craft from their mothers and grandmothers and become masters only after years of practice in making mistakes.
Melted wax has a way of breaking your heart when after you’ve struggled to make a beautiful and perfect cloth an accidental spill ruins sit. It is possible however to correct the mistakes by carefully removing the mistakes with a Q-tip and boiling water.
Time to color the batik. We used two colors, indigo and jelawe, both derived from natural sources.
Dyeing was the easy part of the batik workshop.
Don’t worry, it’s natural dye made from plants.
After the wax has been removed from the batik, it’s time to see the results. Each piece is unique.
At the end of the second day of this batik workshop Bu Dalmini passed out certificates of achievement to each participant, but the best reward was the experience itself. The finished cloth tells the story. Batik has told countless stories over the centuries, and this one will be an unforgettable one for these women.