Making Batik in Ubud: Susuwatari Spotted A Lotus.

Batik (/ˈbætɪk/ or /bəˈtiːk/; Javanese pronunciation: [ˈbateʔ]; Indonesian: [ˈbatɪk]) is a cloth that is traditionally made using a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on October 2, 2009. 

I had always wanted to learn how to make batik. The hot wax, the tracing of the lines, the coloring, the patience… I found the process both beautiful and calming; like a meditation practice. The opportunity to learn how to make batik came to me not in Yogyakarta or Solo, but in Ubud, Bali. Adit introduced me to Pak Nyoman and Ibu Rai, who own Nirvana—a small inn/gallery hidden in the midst of Ubud’s touristy Gautama Street.

Adit batik

Pak Nyoman is an Ubud-born painter who works with batik, oil paint, and water color. He had been an artist-in-residence at Bondi Pavilion, Sydney and Toorak College, Melbourne, lectured at John Kennedy Hall, Guam University, and exhibited extensively in Australia, Italy, Guam, Japan, Singapore and Switzerland. One morning, together with Adit and his cousin, Uma, I spent a day in Ubud to learn how to make batik.

The very first thing to do is to draw a pattern on the cloth with a pencil. Since it was my very first time, I decided to draw something simple and playful. I ended up drawing Susuwatari (wandering soot/ススワタリ)—that appears in Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away; who got curious due to a sudden appearance of a lotus.

Screen shot 2013-02-04 at 1.31.52 PM

Once the drawing is finished, we continue to the second step: tracing the lines with hot wax. Dip the “canting” pen into the hot wax and make sure the canting isn’t too full, or else the wax will spill out. Before tracing the lines, blow the tip of the canting pen to make the wax flows easier. We need to concentrate during the tracing process and keep the canting pen at the right angle to ensure that the wax will continue to flow without spilling over.

batik susuwatari

batik susuwatari

Next, a more relaxing process: coloring! Don’t mix the paint with too much water if you’d like to have a vibrant color. Uma worked on a Balinese drawing with Balinese color that day—the kind you’d be seeing in cloths sold at some small shops along Kuta or Legian street stretch; while Adit worked on something more Japanese with the drawings of a fish in a pond.

batik susuwatari

batik susuwatari

batik

Once the coloring is done and the paint is dry, we need to go back to the hot wax. The next step is to glaze the paint (colored areas) with hot wax. We don’t use canting pen for this. We use a brush instead. Dip the brush into the hot wax, and glaze, dip and glaze, dip and glaze. You need to ensure that the colored surface has been glazed perfectly. You can check this by turning the cloth over; the spots you miss will be visible. Pandjul—the son of Pak Nyoman and Ibu Rai helped me in checking the missed spots and glazing them; while Bocil, the family dog, was waiting for us to finish with sleepy eyes.

batik glazing

bocil

After the glazing, the next step is to color the whole cloth. You can pick the color that you like. The cloth will then be dipped into a color solution of your selection.

batik susuwatari

And then, it’s time to get rid of all the wax in your cloth. How? By dipping the cloth into a pan of boiling water, of course!

batik

After that, you need to put your cloth to dry… and then you can see the results. Adit and Uma’s cloths turned out seriously stunning and beautiful! They are so talented!

batik

batik

And this one is mine. My batik cloth: Susuwatari Spotted A Lotus :D

batik susuwatari lotus

Would you like to learn how to make batik, too? If you’re in Ubud one day, come early in the morning to:

Nirvana Gallery
Jalan Gautama 10, Padangtegal Kaja, Ubud,
Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia. (80571)
Phone : +62.361.975415
E-mail : info@nirvanaku.com
Website : http://www.nirvanaku.com

and please pet Bocil the dog for me!


Triwindu Antique Market, Solo.

Stretched along Bengawan Solo—one of the longest river in Java, and guarded by some volcanoes: Mt. Merapi, Mt. Merbabu and Mt. Lawu, Solo is a tranquil city of Javanese culture and tradition. There’s a certain ‘ancient’ atmosphere that will captivate you instantly: a certain feeling of going back in time; especially as you get closer to the palaces or keraton—the sound of gamelan music wafting faintly from somewhere, batik cloths hanging from the drying rope.

If you love strolling around antique markets, just like me (pretending you’re living in a different century, spotting all those beautiful objects back from the day your mother or grandmother hasn’t been born and making up stories about the imaginary people who used to own those vintage-whatchamacallit as you go along), Solo would definitely charmed you with its Triwindu Antique Market.

Here are some pictures to please your eyes:

Click here for more:

Happy holiday! Wish you all a blessed and wonderful New Year!


things I didn’t say that evening.

Malam itu tergesa. Aku gugup. Kombinasi antara pemikiran bahwa malam ini aku akan terjaga hingga dini hari, kecemasan akan esok hari yang melelahkan karena panjangnya akan lebih dari 24 jam, dan kegelisahan karena akan bertemu kamu.

Enam—atau tujuh hari yang lalu, aku meninggalkanmu dengan sedikit rasa kehilangan. Aku tahu bahwa kita akan bertemu lagi segera, tetapi hari-hari tanpa kamu itu jadi terasa sepi, padahal biasanya aku baik-baik saja dengan sepi. Sedikit menikmatinya, malah. Tetapi mungkin kamu memang bukan sesuatu yang biasanya. Bahkan dalam ketiadaanmu, kamu masih merupa seratus empat puluh karakter yang membuatku tersenyum seharian penuh.

Dan malam ini aku akan bertemu kamu, lagi.

Masih dalam kegugupanku, aku berbicara di telepon sambil mencoba mengarahkan pengemudi taksi ke alamat yang kutuju. Lalu turun di depan gerbang besar dan melalui jalan setapak yang dipenuhi labu-labu ukir oranye dengan cahaya lilin menari-nari di dalamnya. Detak jantungku tidak beraturan ketika mendekati pintu besar.

Aku menarik napas dalam-dalam ketika telepon kumatikan, dan mendorong pintu depan hingga terbuka.

Di tengah kerumunan orang itu, lampu-lampu yang bergantung dari langit-langit, denting gelas wine yang beradu, mataku menangkap sosokmu yang nampak lebih terang dibandingkan pemandangan di sekelilingku. Dan selanjutnya, aku cuma melihat kamu. Kamu. Kamu. Kamu.

Sepertinya hanya kamu yang berada dalam jarak pandangku. Aku tidak bisa berpaling. Kamu tersenyum ketika melihatku. Aku tertawa. Matamu juga.

Satu hal yang terlintas dalam benakku dan tidak kukatakan padamu malam itu adalah:

You look so wonderful tonight. I think I have fallen for you.

Malam itu, kamu mengenakan kemeja batik. Dan kamu, ternyata kamu memang paling ganteng kalau pakai batik :)


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