My hubbie has been working across Asia for years and every so often he hauls a folded package of fabric out of the suitcase. One year he handed me a beautiful royal blue batik embellished with thick dimensional gold lines tracing out the pattern underneath.
Stuck at home with the kids I'd never joined him on any of these trips so was bamboozled by how on earth the gold paint could have got there. Of course it would have been simple if they were printed but that just didn't seem right - every pattern repeat was a little bit different.
Some years later, with the kids a whole lot older, we finally made a family trek to Indonesia and when we found ourselves in Jokjarkarta in the central south of the island of Java I finally figured out how those lines got done. By hand! Being so used to mechanisation in the highly developed world I'd never considered such a thing as hand embellishing a roll of fabric. Well, the truth is, in Indonesia when it comes to batik, they don't produce rolls of fabric, just pieces, usually about 1.5 metres long.
We were lucky enough to visit a workshop and watch batik been made. Young women painstakingly painted on the pattern in wax to the whole of the piece of fabric (it would later be dipped in a dye bath) and it dawned on me that the gold paint on my own royal blue piece had been hand worked in a similar fashion. Despite working in dark, dingy, hot conditions that we would consider unsafe these women produce beautiful fabrics that are highly regarded and valued across the country.
My own royal blue & gold batik was made into a very special party dress (perfect for New Year's, or a 40th birthday) still being worn 15 years later.
To see a few more of my makes using handmade Indonesian fabrics skip over to About FishPetals Sewing Patterns
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