Every country is famous for something right? Well, when it comes to textiles we know we are famous for batik. There’s a long history of batik production in Indonesia. Each region, and even sometimes city, has its own distinct style of batik.
On Java two of the types of Batik design that I personally like are from Yogyakarta and Solo (yes, I do come from this area of Java). You can learn a bit about the history of Solo and Yogyakarta, and local batik styles, in this article about the Imogiri Royal Tombs where the sultans of Solo and Yogyakarta are buried.
Personally I really like batik and I’ve always wanted to try to make some for myself. It took a long time of being in Yogyakarta before I finally decided to join a batik workshop for myself (the batik workshop I joined is part of a community tourism initiative run by the same village that runs the popular countryside cycling tour).
The Batik Course
The batik class I joined was outside of Yogyakarta on a quiet village lane. I joined the workshop twice. The first time was with Camilla who got in contact with me through the website, the second time was with Ju Won who is from Korea.
Let me tell you a bit about the workshop, because if you’re a creative person like me I know you will want to join one when you visit Yogyakarta. I promise you it’s a lot of fun (and a tiny bit difficult).
Introduction to Batik
Did you know that most batik in Indonesia (that’s not produced in a factory) is still hand made in small local workshops? Well the batik workshop that I joined is held at one of these small production houses. So you get to work with real experts. Let me start at the beginning…
Both times I joined the batik course the day started out with a short history of batik. Our instructor for the day explained a bit about the different styles of batik, the meaning of some of the motives and how to produce the designs.
It’s a nice introduction to batik and a good starting point, because after the introduction it was time to try to make batik for myself.
How Batik is Made
Batik is a bit like European tie-dye that you might have made when you were a child. The first stage of the batik production is to heat up wax in a small pot over the fire.
After the wax is heated you then use wooden tools to add wax to a piece of fabric. The tools work a bit like a pencil or a paintbrush. You have to try to add the wax in clean lines (Batik actually means Wax Written). As a designer you can either draw these designs freehand, or use a thin piece of paper where you trace your designs.
Once you’ve added your design in wax to the fabric it is soaked in dye. After this the fabric is boiled in hot water to get rid of the wax. The part of the fabric that was covered in wax will stay white. To create a design with multiple colours the fabric needs to be dried. Once it is dry another layer of wax is added and the process is repeated. The first colour added is normally the lightest.
I make it sound easy…
Creating My Own Batik
The two girls who were creating batik designs sitting at the workshop certainly made it look easy. When I tried to make my own batik though I quickly realized how difficult batik creating is. I did cheat a tiny bit and get some help making the design. The second time I joined the workshop I was a bit better than the first, but it’s going to be a long time before I become an expert. Still, I had fun and there’s a good chance that I’ll be joining another workshop in the near future.
Join a Batik Workshop in Yogyakarta
The batik course is a lot of fun. I learnt new things, gained new skills and made new friends. It’s part of the reason why I so enjoy joining workshops. It was also in a good cause and I’m definitely glad I joined up. I’m happy to have partnered with the local community to offer Discover Your Indonesia readers the opportunity to join a batik workshop.
Included in the Batik Workshop [cost is Rp250,000 per person; we can provide a small discount for > 3 pax]:
- Friendly fun English speaking teacher
- A hot cup of tea or coffee
- Lesson on how to make batik
- The chance to make your own batik (that you can take home)
Interested in joining a batik class? Fill in the form below to make a booking.
Have you ever joined a batik course? Did you find it as hard? Share your thoughts in the comments below.