Bali: Creating Batik Fabric

We traveled back to Denpasar today to visit a batik factory. The market for rayon batik fabrics has fallen sharply and this factory which was a bustling enterprise is now struggling to find a way to survive. They have started to batik a range of other fabrics: a linen/cotton mix for beautiful tote bags in a variety of sizes; knit fabrics for gorgeous t-shirts, silk for scarves and blouses… And they’ve turned to making these products for export as a way of keeping the batik business alive.

The purpose of our visit was to make some batik ourselves. Making batik involves hand stamping wax on fabric using a copper tjap, a labour intensive process. The wax protects a base colour on the fabric when it is dyed a second time using a darker colour.

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Five yards of a very high quality rayon fabric had been dyed and over-dyed in preparation for us. So we came into the process at the waxing stage. We were invited into the room housing a couple of hundred tjaps to choose one or more for our own batik:

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I chose two tjaps:

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Next we headed to the waxing table – a cool, spongy, surface on which to stamp the fabric:

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The wax is heated in a large, shallow tray (heated from below using a gas burner). The tjaps are placed in the hot wax until the copper is hot, then the wax-bearing tjap is stamped onto the fabric creating a repeating design.

The fabric to be stamped is laid on the table, and the stamping process begins. We were helped out by Henry whose spatial sense was amazing – he could control the positioning of each stamping that can only come from years of working with the tjaps!

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My fabric quickly took shape:

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Once the fabric is completely stamped, it is dyed again, hung to dry, then dipped in fixative, rinsed again, next put in boiling water to remove the wax, then finally dried again. Henry will complete all of these steps over the next couple of days and we will get our five meters of batik by the end of the week. Can’t wait to see how mine will turn out.

Next stop lunch, then on to a sarong wholesaler where I bought a sarong with hand painted flowers – I want to make a summer skirt like one I saw in Goddess On The Go (they only had the one skirt like this and it was too small for me – so I will make one myself).

Last stop: a button store where I wanted to find two buttons for my latest quilted jacket :

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I had the foresight to bring a fabric sample:

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Tomorrow, exploring notions…

3 thoughts on “Bali: Creating Batik Fabric

  1. And J shows her Bali button to the world! How are you staying so focussed? I would need at least 3 metres of everything!

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