by Jonathan S.Evans
THE “THINGIE” FROM AUSTRALIA
I first heard about the “Thingie” from Australia when I received an email from a lady in Darwin, Australia. She was a textile artist and quilter who had bought a collection of Batik materials at a yard sale. There was a block of beeswax, some dyes, several brushes and the “Thingie”. She described it as a ball of string which seemed to be soaked in wax, with a brass point- like an umbrella has- sticking out of the string ball. The object had a long wood handle and because it came with a box of batik equipment, she assumed that it had something to do with batik.
I had no idea what it was from the description and asked her to send me a photo of the “thingie”, as she described it. It was as she said and like nothing I had seen before. The smooth carved handle looked to be beautifully made and the point, the ferrule, was sharp. I thought that it was quite reasonable to deduce that it had something to do with batik but I couldn’t figure out what the function of the object was at all.
I emailed the photograph and its description to “Wax Eloquent”, an on-line Facebook Batik group and although some of the artists there were interested in my “thingie”, nobody knew what it was or had ever seen anything like it. Even the expert staff at MyBatik Magazine didn’t know it was. I had just about given up on the whole thing when I realised that the ball of string might work as a wax reservoir and wax might run down onto the point at the end and then the tool- if indeed it was a tool- would act like a primitive tjanting. Because the object had been found in Darwin, the nearest Australian city to Indonesia, I assumed that the object came from Indonesia but I looked at endless photographs of Indonesian tjantings on-line without finding anything remotely similar.
Weeks later, my old friend Rudolf Smend sent me an old print that he had found of Indian batik tools- and there it was- my “Thingie” from Australia. It was the first tool in the picture, with a slightly shorter handle but clearly the same thing, whilst next to it was another one with three points for doing multiple lines, along with some traditional tjantings and tjaps. I was right in my idea that the ball of string would soak up hot wax when dipped in the pot which would then run down the brass point onto the stretched cloth. I was correct in my supposition but my batik detective work went no further. How the wax tool made the long trip from Southern India to Darwin and became the “Thingie from Australia” I shall never know.
THAILAND TO PROMOTE BATIK AS CLUSTER INDUSTRY IN PHUKET
Surat Chimpleesiri, the Director of Industrial Support Center Region 10, said “Batik generates a lot of income to Phuket and Thailand. However, there is no sustainable development plan for this industry and no support from a government sector. To develop this industry, batik entrepreneurs should work together in a cluster to help each other develop their own business sustainability.
The cluster has to state its direction, goals, strategies, and plans in order to enhance the business potential of the batik industry. Moreover, there should be experience and information sharing and brain storming among the members of the cluster which will make the management more effective.
Yogyakarta batik industry in tatters
Batik home industries in the Kulonprogo area of Yogyakarta are suffering from limited capital and poor marketing, locals say.
There used to be 230 home industries in the area, but most of them have now closed down and now only 20 remain, metronews.com reported Thursday.
“The regional government does not seem to care. They have paid little attention and let the businesses die,” said Sogorin, a batik artisan.
A home industry operating in the batik center in Gulurejo and Ngentakrejo villages in Lendah district used to have between 12 and 25 workers, but now has less than 10.
During the heyday, artisans earned Rp 35,000 (US$3.75) for working on a 2-meter-long batik cloth, but now the wage has dropped to Rp 15,000.
In love with batik
Transforming your own fashion designs into a runway show would be a dream for most 11-year-old girls. For Alleira batik designer Amanda Nindra Purnomo Marki, it is a dream comes true.
The fun-loving British International School student, who balances her desire to draw and create pieces of wearable Indonesian tradition with school, homework and her love of soccer, has always loved dressing up and planning fashion shows for her friends.
Amanda launched her collection, Life of Love, inspired by love for Valentine’s Day, to a wide-eyed audience of young girls and fashion-forward parents on Feb. 6 at Plaza Indonesia.
The first teen fashion show by Alleira Kids offered an exciting take on batik, combining traditional elements of the print with feminine cuts and innocent, girly fun. Driven by a passion for batik, Alleira started in 2005 with a goal to share batik with the world. She is now stocked in shops both locally and overseas.
“Batik is usually traditional, but I’ve used it in a fun way from a kid’s perspective. I’m giving teens a chance to wear batik as well,” Amanda says.
As one of Indonesia’s most promising young fashion talents, her designs combine handwoven silk from Garut, West Java, and chiffon, with playful cuts, sweet sequins and gold stitching.
Those in the audience saw a fun and experimental mix of colors, with everything from traditional navy, orange and brown batik patterns to candy pinks, purples and soft pastel blues.
Growing up, Amanda always enjoyed sketching. After being named Best Young Designer in Indonesia by the Indonesia Records Museum (MURI) two years ago, Alleira offered her a position and she hasn’t looked back.
“It is really, really fun. I get home from school and if I get an idea, I’m always just grabbing a piece of paper to get it down. When I was little I decided I really wanted to have a fashion show and ever sine then, it has just been about getting the ideas down every time they come into my head,”
In using her position to reinvent the idea of batik in the minds of her generation, Amanda has won herself a place on the local fashion runway and clothing wish lists of girls around the country.
One of Alleira’s owners, Purti Muki Reksoprodjo, said she could see Amanda taking her pieces to fashion shows around the world in coming years, with the support of her family: “The show was fabulous, amazing. She has done a fantastic job… and she’ll go international.”
Purti said that batik was important to Indonesian culture and people must not loose their connection with batik by favoring glossy, international brands.
“If we don’t push the young generation to wear batik or design batik, we are afraid that in the future, it will disappear,” she said.
Alleira director Lisa Mihardja said she felt confident that with Amanda’s talent, batik could be successfully expanded away from sleepwear and clothing traditionally worn around the house, into something suitable for the tough teen fashion market.
“She is designing batik for young people like herself, so they are proud to wear batik to parties and the mall. We are proud to be able to offer a batik design that can compete against international brands,” Lisa says.
Like her designs, Amanda’s future looks fun and bright. “She is going to be an extremely good designer if she focuses on design,” Lisa says.
Her own message to other teens also chasing down their dreams is simple: “Do what you love, follow your passion and follow your heart — it will get you there eventually.”
Students thrilled to see own work displayed in gallery
G.B. Little Public School student Jhalina Ravichandra, left, points out the finer details of her work to her classmates Tuesday during Model Schools for Inner Cities’ Modern Batik Art Exhibition at the Todmorden Mills Arts CentreFor artists Nur Atiqah Fauzan and Natasha-Renee von Richter, seeing their pieces framed in a professional gallery is something they could get used to.
The two are Grade 8 students at George B. Little Public School and in the fall they had the opportunity to work with artist David Kibuuka, a world renowned talent and co-founder of the modern batik art technique.
The chance to work with an artist of Kibuuka’s talent was a great opportunity for the girls, but it was one they might never have gotten without the Model Schools for Inner Cities program.
The girls were part of a group of 16 Grade 6, 7 and 8 students from their school who got to work with Kibuuka for three sessions one week in October.
The Indonesian Ladies Group of the Indonesian Embassy has been very active since the arrival of Ambassador Latucosina and his wife Butar and they have organised many functions both inside and outside the embassy to promote and strengthen bilateral relations between Pakistan and Indonesia. Their latest venture took place at the head office of the Behbud Association in Rawalpindi, where the group came to teach the basics of the art of Batik. About two-dozen girls, who work at home to generate income for their family’s welfare, attended the session. The instructor used English as a medium of instruction, while incharge, KAF project, Anila Haider, undertook to translate into Urdu and also thanked the guests for taking the time and trouble to teach the girls.
It turned out to be an interactive affair, thoroughly enjoyed by those who took part in it because besides learning the basics of a new art form they got to meet women from a brotherly nation like Indonesia, something, which is not a probability for a majority of them. The fact that the Indonesians were warm and friendly added greatly to the overall feeling of goodwill, making the occasion memorable for these young women.
A stove with a bowl of wax and a few simple instruments were used to demonstrate the process of Batik, with instructor Farah Ikhwan giving the basic lesson of how to go about it, helped in part by Butar and the other ladies.
The whole process of making a good piece of Batik takes time and patience and cannot be hurried. The right materials play an important part in the process and while there are four different kinds of Batik, the best is the one that is entirely hand made. The girls were then asked to make samples, which they did, receiving accolades from the Indonesians for their ability to pick up the basics so quickly. “You have a good eye for drawing and are very talented,” said Farah much to the girls delight. As a gesture to encourage the girls, prizes were awarded to the four best samples, which was a thrilling moment for the recipients who were not expecting anything like this to happen! Since it takes about two months to make one dress piece of Batik material it is not possible for anyone to pick up the art in just one lesson, but the manner in which this lesson was given must surely have inspired the girls to learn more.