Today after our class we took a trotro to a Batik place. As usual we all filed out of the trotro one by one as we scan the surrounding areas. The street was not unusual from any others I have seen but what was new to me was our final destination. We didn’t walk through the stores front doors; rather we ended up going through a walking gate that was located to the side. Once through it was clear a lot went on there. To the right was another door into the store; behind that there was a room that seemed to be semi blocked by a gridded door. It was hard to see into the room but what I could see and hear told me that it was a place where people sew clothes that people want made. The farthest part was a shed like structure filled with buckets of different liquids. All the rims were stained with colors or wax. There were a few people working, paying no mind to the crowd of white people who had just entered into their workspace. We watched with interest until we were instructed further.
As we were instructed we all leaned over two wooden bin type structures built to hold all their design sponges to find a few we liked. It was an almost painful process as one after the other is picked up, tossed to the side and grabbed by the next hand. Searching through like this was chaotic to say the least. In the end everyone had found enough they were satisfied with and waited for further instructions. One by one we all began to dip our sponges of choice into a vat of hot wax this; this wax was recycled over and over as much as possible in order to not waste. The wax had to be hot enough to soften the sponge and melt any lingering wax from the last use. Once soft enough we pressed it lightly onto a white piece of fabric. The grayish colored wax stuck onto the surface well making the pattern clear. There were paintbrushes, sticks, and slices of sponge that we could use to make different patterns or effects we wanted.
Everyone had different ideas and patterns they used to make their specialized batik. Once everyone was finished it was time to choose a color to soak the fabric in. More people chose purple and red, blue much fewer. We all watched as the fabrics soaked in the dye for a while before the owner came up and in a polite way told us to leave. When we were about to leave they started soaking the fabric in boiling water to remove all the wax; so it could be saved and reused. We were supposed to come back the next day and pick them up after they had gone through all the processes. I am not sure if we saw everything or if there was more to be done, but the next day we picked up the Batik’s we made all ready and beautiful. An experience to never forget.
The whole process of making my own pattern was an experience that I feel I could never get again. I felt as if I was welcomed into a part of their culture not many get to experience. I felt very grateful to the man who was helping me, even though we didn’t have many words exchanged throughout the short time of my artistic moment. I developed respect for the workers and process of making Batik, it really takes skill to make something look good. It could probably be made by anyone with enough practice: key word – practice.
contributed by Christine Weiland