Trying my hand at batik

The family pension where I have been staying in Ubud is run by a family of Balinese artists. Nyoman, the owner, is a well known batik and watercolor artist and has traveled extensively to show his work and lecture on Balinese art.

They offer batik classes at the hotel and I decided to spend my last day in Ubud learning from the master. Batik, originally from some mixture of China, India, and Japan, is a time-consuming and exacting art, requiring a range of materials, a very steady hand, and lots of patience. Done well, the result of all that effort is spectacularly colored and intricately detailed paintings. In my case, with lots of assistance from Nyoman’s son, I’d say we landed at brightly colored and moderately detailed.

I decided to do a gecko for my painting, in honor of my memorable rooftop friend. I sketched on the cotton canvas with a pencil and then Nyoman helped me correct and adjust. The next step is using a bamboo stick tool to redraw the picture with hot wax – i found this to be the most challenging part and my wax frequently pooled or dripped on the canvas. Next I painted the areas where I wanted a crinkling effect with a different type of wax. After that it was time to paint using deep dyes and water. This felt a little like the paint-by-number pieces I made as a kid since I already had the outline and Nyoman helped select the colors. Once the fabric was dry, I again painted over it with two types of wax – one to keep the color, and the other to add a different crinkling effect. Then there were two dye washes: indigo for the background, which is a common feature across most paintings, and then brown for my specific background. After that, we boiled the fabric to remove the wax, dried it, ironed it, and viola: my very own batik painting!

In process batik, with the outline completed in wax and the background painted with the crinkling wax

It was fascinating to learn about the intricate process and fun to really concentrate on making a piece of art, especially knowing that I had masters who could help me fix my many mistakes. And unlike cooking, which I find to be a similar process of concentration and continuous improvement, I actually get to frame and keep my final product!

My finished gecko batik

Additional information:
Nirvana Pension
Jalan Gautama 10, Padangtegal Kaja, Ubud,
Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia. (80571)
Phone: +62.361.975415
This entry was posted in Bali, Bali, Indonesia, Ubud and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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