Colorful patterns. Intricate designs. Vivid landscapes. One of the most iconic things about Indonesian culture is the batik art and batik clothing. It is also an important part of the country’s history. So of course while I was exploring Indonesia on motorcycle of course I had to pause in Yogyakarta briefly to attend a week of batik school.
It should be noted that there are no shortage of batik classes targeted towards foreigners which cost anywhere between 120,000-200,000 IDR (roughly $10-17 USD) for a brief three or four hour class. I however managed to attend a real school for which I paid 200,000 for an entire week.
During my week at batik school I made several pieces, including a t-shirt. However the batik process is extremely slow and tedious. It was fun the first couple days. I had hordes of Chinese tourists coming through and taking photos of me like I was some sort of expert or an exhibit in the zoo. I even tried telling them “yeah I’ve only been doing this for a few hours” but they didn’t seem to mind. (I guess the novelty of seeing one lone white guy slaving away amongst a crowd of Indonesians must have had some appeal…)
Towards the middle of the week I started to grow bored with the slow pace and extensive work required throughout the batik process. And by the last few days I swore “this is it, I’m done!” I knew by the time I finished that sure, batik school was fun and I learned a lot, but this is never something I will ever in my life do again. It is an incredibly slow process and requires vast amounts of effort to become a true “batik master.”
A color mixing chart for batik dyes, which all come in powder form. Some are mixed with hot water and others cold — depending on the desired result. This knowledge is part of what separates batik masters from batik students.
The End Result?
How Batik Art Is Made
Using some of the photos from my week-long class my friend Rahma (check out her travel blog!) compiled this snazzy video, complete with step-by-step instructions and Indonesian gamelan music. Take a look and learn how to make batik!