The art of Batik in Bali

Tessie joined us in Bali 2 weeks ago and she has been exploring the culture of the island from the moment the plane touched down. An inspiration to our community, she lights up every room with her energy and compassion.

Tessie at a traditional juice making class on our rooftop in UBUD, Bali.

Here with us for 2 months, she’s retired from over 15 years in corporate insurance and committed this year to exploring life in social service. Tessie heads to Jakarta in October to volunteer with a foundation that supports literacy for children (request to remain anonymous) and we are lucky to have her!

We asked Tessie what her favourite adventure has been so far, and she wanted us to share the traditional art of Batik — here’s a peek inside her experience.

Time to get crafty, Bali style!

So what is Batik?

It’s a method (originally used in Java, Indonesia) of producing coloured designs on textiles by dyeing them, having first applied wax to the parts to be left ‘undyed’.

A woman hand paints wax on this design before dying
Traditional spouted tool is used to draw the wax (Canting also spelled Tjanting)

A brief history…

Experts have said that Batik was originally reserved as an art form for Javanese royalty — since many of the original patterns were inspired by designs worn only by Royalty from the Sultan’s palace in Yogyakarta.

The traditional colours for Batik were derived from plants and trees and there were only 3 variations, Blue (Indigo Plant) Brown (Soga tree) and dark Red (Morinda Citrifolia).

Indigo dye pot

This method can be traced back 1,500 years and samples have been found in Egypt, Middle East, Turkey, India, China, Japan and West Africa — although none have been noted to develop the art as intricately as the Batik found in Indonesia…

Traditional ceremonial attire in Bali, includes Batik fabric and Kebaya

Widya Batik hosts regular Batik workshops, we highly recommend their classes if you’re in UBUD…

Here is a step by step of “How to make a Batik”, shared by Tessie ❤

Step 1: Draw your image on the muslin fabric, from a pre-made image of your choice or draw your own.
Step 2: Draw wax over your design to separate the colours before dying
Step 3: Stamp the fabric with a design of your choice
Step 4: Select your colours from the natural dye choices
Step 5: Paint your design
Step 6: Hang your design to dry for one hour
Step 7: Soak your fabric into cold water to bring out the real colour, then hot water to remove the wax. Cold water one more time to lock in the colour.
Step 8: Enjoy your creativity! (Tessie’s final product!)

Amazing job Tessie and a HUGE thank you for sharing this experience with us ❤

If you’re looking for things to do in Bali, keep an eye on Roam Co-Living for more recommendations or follow our local adventures on Facebook!

P.s — we are grateful to The Bali Expat blog for providing great information on the history of the Batik.