Two Days At Batik Jolawe

Batik has a long and rich heritage on the island of Java.

Tools for making batik, including canting, different types of wax, and natural dye-making materials

Tools for making batik

We spent two days with Dedi Perwadi and his wife  Wineng of Batik Jolawe, where they make batik cloth using traditional methods of hand drawing with wax and dying with natural materials.

Different types of wax and materials for making natural dyes

Different types of wax and materials for making natural dyes

Batik is made by applying wax to a cloth in a particular pattern, then dying the cloth. The wax prevents the dye from reaching the cloth, so when the wax is washed away it leaves behind the pattern on the cloth.

Learning how to use the canting, the tool for applying the wax

Learning how to use the canting, the tool for applying the wax

canting is used to apply wax to the cloth. It is a small tool with a wooden or bamboo handle. At the end of it is a small reservoir for the hot wax, and a spout for slowly dripping or pouring the wax onto the cloth.

Perfecting my canting methodology. It was a pretty steep learning curve to not accidentally leave gobs of wax all over the fabric.

Perfecting my canting methodology. It was a pretty steep learning curve to not accidentally leave gobs of wax all over the fabric.

Every time you want to add a new color to your batik, you must re-apply the wax to all of the areas you do not want to color. It is a detailed and painstaking process.

A display of the different methods of dying batik

A display of the different methods of dying batik

It’s a deceptively simple process. Anyone can do it, but it takes a real artist to draw masterfully with the canting and understand all the nuances of the dyes.

Hugo perfects his skill with the canting. Don't worry, this pot of wax was not hot!

Hugo perfects his skill with the canting. Don’t worry, this pot of wax was not hot!

The first day, I wasn’t very satisfied with my work. I thought there would be more contrast in the dyes I chose.

You can see the fish, but unless you look very close, the details are lost

You can see the fish, but unless you look very close, the details are lost

So I came back again a second day to re-apply the wax and try a new dye.

Meanwhile, Hugo got to do a bit of painting himself. He calls it "a bunch of eels."

Meanwhile, Hugo got to do a bit of painting himself. He calls it “a bunch of eels.”

There was also a cat to play with, so he was pretty happy.

The cat was not interested in his overtures of friendship

The cat was not interested in his overtures of friendship

I’m pretty sure my skills improved in the second day. I only burned myself with hot wax once, and the end result was much,  much better.

I think I'll turn it into a pillow for Hugo's room at home. Next step: learn to sew!

I think I’ll turn it into a pillow for Hugo’s room at home. Next step: learn to sew!

If you are interested in visiting Batik Jolawe, check out their website here. There is a long entry on February 28th about our group’s visit.

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4 thoughts on “Two Days At Batik Jolawe

  1. dear beth,
    thanks you for writing about your visiting to our Batikjolawe in Bantul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Our home are always open for your family and anyone who want learn about natural dye batik and to keep relationship.
    Dedi H Purwadi and Wineng

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