Saturday, December 14, 2013

Batik Fo' Dayz

This guy had some stellar batik skills!
Channeling my inner batik artist
Trying the stamps (Much harder than it looks) 
Sorry, Mom and Dad. I'm not going to college. I'm becoming a professional batik maker. Okay, so not really. We all know that my artistic skills lack, but nevertheless, I still am always up for a good art project. That fact brought me to today, where I was FINALLY given the opportunity to test my hand at making traditional batik. But first, a brief lesson. What is batik you may ask? Batik is a traditional Indonesian fabric that typically has some sort of intricate pattern that was created from wax. Here in Indonesia, I see batik on a daily basis. It's used for shirts, laptop cases, hand bags, pillows, wallets, everything you can think of. It's one of Indonesia's most distinct attributes. All regions of Indonesia have their own styles and patterns of Batik. Traditionally, the fabric was used to show rank and class in society; especially when it came to nobility in Jogjakarta. So, the batik process is just as beautiful as the fabric itself. It takes precision, focus, and a talent that your typical human just doesn't possess. To break it down simply, you start with a piece of plain, clean cloth. From here, you can do one of two things. You can either A) Stamp the cloth with a stamp to create a repeating pattern or B) Free hand using a traditional tool called a "tjant." The second of the two options is the most time consuming, and requires the most care. Once the wax is applied and cooled, you dye the fabric in whatever color(s) you like. Traditionally, these were browns and blues as that is what Indonesians could do naturally. Today however, there is a larger array of colors available. I dyed mine in a dark red. So that's a very quick breakdown of batik. And of course, it's much easier said than done. Despite my introduction about me being a stellar batik artist, that couldn't be farther from the truth. While my stamps turned out alright, when it actually came time to freehand, I. Was. Awful. My flower came out looking more like... Well, not like a flower. My hand right hand was too shaky. My left hand holding the batik wasn't stable. Combine those two things with the fact that my sixth grade art teacher told me to never take art class again, and you get some sloppy batik. But nevertheless, I loved it. It was a very humbling experience, seeing the process behind something that has quickly become a part of my daily life, and that I may have taken for granted. All is well in Indonesia!

My final product!