Last week I got to go to my favourite country around here, Indonesia. This time I went alone for an intensive batik course in Yogjakarta - something I've been meaning to do for several years. Although there are batik courses in Singapore, I've never managed to find anyone to teach me about dyeing and so have only really learnt 'faux' batik techniques which are more akin to silk painting. I was really excited to have the opportunity to learn about dyeing in particular and also using 'caps' (pronounced 'chaps'), the batik stamps. Possibly the best part was getting this new input from wonderful husband and wife team Nia Fliam and Agus Ismoyo who run Brahma Tirta Sari batik studio. They and their team produce exquisite fine art textiles - my heart just melts when I see them.
The week was certainly intensive - learning how to use the tjanting (the wax filled tool used mainly to create lines), learning how to use the caps, learning about Indonesian batiks, learning about dyeing... there was a lot of learning. There was also a lot of doing. As my main interest was in the dyeing process, I worked mainly on four pieces which were loosely based on the four elements: Earth (Tanah), Fire (Api), Water (Air - mmm, that became a bit confusing - the word for water is 'air' in bahasa), and Air/Sky (langit). All four pieces had about 4 different colours layered on top of each other - using two different dye systems. I used some caps but just as simple reminders / additions to reinforce the themes (eg leaves for earth, turtles for the sea etc). In the end two turned out well in my opinion, if not that pleasing to me on an aesthetic level, the other two not so good and need more work. But hey, first time doing this so I was very pleased to have achieved it at all. Of course I have to give 99% of the credit to the guys who mixed the dyes - they really know what they are doing.
So, back home I am wondering where do I go with all this new input...I still want to incorporate batik into papermaking somehow - not sure which aspect - perhaps the dyeing, perhaps the stamping. Guess it's time to play some more!