We woke up to mountains of delicious foods, which Icha’s (my friend/flatmate) mother had prepared. Indonesian breakfast is nothing like the American cereal or sausage and eggs option. There is of course rice and on this occasion we had two types of fish, tempeh (my favorite, a type of fried soybean cake, which is extremely delicious with hot chili oil!) and a few other dishes. It was very filling, so we were ready to set out and find the Textile Museum. We took the train into Jakarta from a suburb and arrived at the museum planning to simply explore the collection. However, at the entrance we found out that the museum offered a Batik workshop! Batik is technique used to decorate fabric in many countries of southeast Asia, but it is especially well-known in Indonesia. This technique is a wax-resist dyeing. One either uses a canting (the wooden tool with a small metal bell-form reservoir and spout pictured below) to draw on the cloth or a stamp can be used to create the patterns. This practice is rightly on the UNESCO list as a ‘Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’.
Needless to say, I adored this class! The three of us each made a small square using the canting technique. We first picked a motif and then used a light table to trace our designs in pencil on the cotton cloth. We sat around a can with a heated pool of wax and continuously filled and refilled our canting tools to trace our drawings. When we finished with the wax, a staff member helped us to dye and set our cloths. The wax was then removed: where the wax was once drawn on, the fabric remained white, and where the cloth was left untouched, it was now a deep blue shape.