Yogyakarta: batik

Walking into another artist’s studio, envy surges within me accompanied by a strangely familiar sense of home. My muscles yearn to use the tools and the wave of inspiration hits hard. Forget saving up for an apartment when I get home - I need studio space. I can hardly describe the pleasure I get from a room with bare white walls, a dusty floor, a paint-splattered sink, and a wide wooden table. Bliss? That’s about right.

Here in the batik studio we were treated to a demonstration by our friend Tatang, an artist/ filmmaker/ environmental activist. He showed us each step of the process, from melting the wax and painting with the tjanting tools, to dyeing and making the natural dyes, and finally boiling the fabric to remove the wax. It takes Tatang one full day to hand make a silk scarf with an abstract design. The traditional patterns take even longer due to the intricacy of the design. I could have spent an entire week in that studio making batik, but there was so much to do and see in Yogyakarta. For a video of the process and to see some of the other artist’s work, visit the gallery’s website.

Melting waxes and tjanting tools

Tacking silk onto wooden frame

Paraffin allows some dye to bleed through while beeswax blocks the color completely.

Tubs of dye

Tubs of dye

Natural mahogany dye.

Fixing mahogany dye with a mineral

Batik detail

Boiling to remove wax.

A final wash before hanging to dry.

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