Issan has long been acclaimed for its textile weaving traditions. Recently I had the opportunity to visit a weaving village, Ban Ton, on the edge of the town of Ban Khwaow in northeastern Thailand, know as Issan. I met Ms. Nujuang who kindly shared a wealth of information translated by my friend and guide, Mr. Ping. She shows some of her work in this photo, a typical silk matmee for local use as a skirt, wrapped much like a sarong, for important village functions.
Click on the photo to see more.
Indigo is making a resurgence in contemporary batik. It had been the primary source of blue color in batik for many years up until the introduction of chemical dyes at the turn of the century.There are a number of contemporary batik-makers who are discovering the beauty of indigo blue. Some are even growing there own indigo plants and producing the dye themselves. Here are some photos from two recent excursions into the world of indigo batik. Meet Hanafi, Iful, and Solikhin who are making great strides in re-introducing indigo to the world of batik again.
Then you should visit Vietnam where countless numbers of young artists, painters, copiers, entrepreneurs, students, whatever, produce paintings sold by the size. You can find copies of fine art, copies of photographs, original paintings, paintings in the style of other artists, whatever. Studio/galleries line the streets of the back-packer ghettos and paintings can be had for a back-packer’s budget.
Click on this photo to go to a gallery of photos from my recent trip to Vietnam to see more.
A recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City, surprisingly referred to as Saigon by most locals, especially younger ones, stimulated every sense to maximum levels. The visual of course is probably the most immediate sense to be stimulated. Here are a few photos yet to be labeled to show you what I mean by stimulating. Click on any photo to enlarge.
Three young students at SBO Children’s Center proudly showing off their work.
SBO Children’s Center is an organization started by an online group on Facebook (Sidang Batik Online) to maintain integrity and share information among batik artists and enthusiasts who exhibit and market their work online. It provides an ongoing forum for problem solving, creative inspiration, and marketing ideas. The online group saw the need to encourage youngsters to value their cultural heritage in batik and to help them realize the potential of batik as a means to self sufficiency. So the group organized a foundation supported by donations from its members to establish a school in Bantul offering free classes to children interested in learning more about batik. The classes are provided by various members of the online group who are devoted to sharing their particular expertise with young people. There are classes offered in the history and culture of batik, the symbolism of batik motifs, contemporary design, hands-on-technique such as the history and culture of batik, batik in everyday life, symbolism in batik motifs, contemporary design, and hands-on technique in the various skills of batik-making.
I had the privilege of being invited by my friend Bayu Aria, the leading founder of the organization and a very talented batik artist himself, to give a presentation on batik in the US. The student were fascinated to know about what Americans think about batik.
(Click in this photo to enter the gallery of photos from this workshop.)
Young trainee at the kelopmpok who is only 17 and very skilled with the canting. She is very proud of this batik and has been working on it for many weeks.
My friend and extraordinary batik artist Abdul Syukar (first person ton the left in the first photo below) recently introduced me to Berkah Lestari, a kelompok batik workshop in Giriloyo, Bantul, Jogjakarta. Kelompok translates literally as “group” but in this context it designates a collectively-owned enterprise, in this case a batik collective. There are 12 such collectives in Giriloyo. All of these have sprung up since the earthquake in 2006 that devastated the area and killed over 2,000 people.
2. Original design by Nani done in natural dyes.
3, Traditional batik motif
4. Looking over the production with Ibu Muyhoyoroh
Berkah Lestari has 50 members and they elect 6 members to act as a board of directors. All members are partial owners and decisions are made democratically. They range in age from 24 to 70 years old. There are ten active members who come to the workshop everyday. Some are expert in coloring, others in design, and still others in applying the wax to the cloth. The other active members all work at home. They come to the workshop to collect the cloth and get instructions, then take it home to work on it in between their other chores. Each member pays a small amount for dues each month. The kelompok accepts inexperienced beginners and offers training in the various skills required to make batik.
These are some young high school students who are being trained, some from special programs for sewing and design, and others just want to know about batik.
1. This boy is learning the batik process so he can understand how to use batik in fashion design.
2. A young trainee with a master colorist
3. Each student works on their own cloth from design to finished batik
4. Nani’s student shows off her work in progress
This kelompok’s structure is set like this: 10% of gross sales are to be divided among the active members who are working. The remaining 90% is kept in a fund for operating expenses, supplies, cloth, etc. At the end of the year the balance left in this fund is the profit and it is shared equally among all the members. About 25% of their coloring is done with natural dyes, and the rest are chemical dyes.