Batik Painting in Bali

One reason I chose Bali as a holiday destination was my interest in batik fabrics. I wanted to see batiks being made, have a go myself and also buy some to make into quilts, I even organised my luggage allowance so I would have plenty of spare capacity!

A few weeks before our holiday I booked a workshop with Widya’s Batiks, he’s based in Ubud where we were staying. He has a facebook page and courses can be booked easily through that.

I had a great day at the workshop, Widya was an excellent teacher. There are lots of different methods of making batik and on Bali I think it is very similar to silk painting. Widya had lots of designs to choose from or you could draw your own if you wanted. I chose a picture of some lotus flowers, it turned out to be pretty apt as I didn’t realise it at the time but there is a lotus garden in Ubud which we visited a couple of days later.

The design was traced with pencil onto a length of cotton clipped to a frame. Then came the tricky part! Batik uses wax as a resist and in Bali it is applied with a bamboo stick with a copper ‘nib’, Luckily we had a practise piece to try the technique out, the conical reservoir was dipped into molten wax and then you could (in theory!) steadily draw the line of wax. Every 10 seconds or so you had to empty out the wax and refil the pen as otherwise it started to set and block the nib.Batik Painting in Bali

Like a lot of things, it’s not as easy as it looks, despite being used to applying gutta! I had some very wobbly lines and some blobs on my practise piece, Widya offered to outline some of the more fiddly bits of my final piece whilst I was still practising, for which I was very grateful. I was the only student there that day so he could give me lots of help! I also used the practise piece to have a go with the actual painting. Batik paints don’t blend or spread in the same way that silk paints do, although the wax does act as the resist. This means that you can paint detail a lot more easily. I painted the darker lines of the flowers first and then went over with two colours, blending as I went. The ‘brushes’ we used were made of wood, one was basically a stick cut on a slant with the end softened somehow. The other was just a stick with some cotton wrapped around the end.  I also found the paints themselves interesting as they reminded me of painting ceramics years ago with my mum, in that what you see is not necessarily what you get after the fixing process, a brown dye turned green in the end, a very pale lemon darkened to vivid orange in sunlight.

Practise Piece!

By the time I had mastered the painting, Widya had (with my permission) outlined my main panel. A little bit of me would have liked to do it all myself but the rest of me was very pleased that I had a decent panel to paint!! What I did do myself was to print the borders, it took about three imprints of hot wax to make each length.Batik Painting in Bali

I was glad I had practised with the painting as I’m really pleased with how my lotus flowers came out. The water in the background was interesting as it didn’t blend at all like silk paints, I would do it differently another time.

After painting it was left to dry in the sunshine. The final part of the process was setting it, this is done in a bath of weak hydrochloric acid and salt (if I remember correctly!) followed by a dunk in boiling water to remove the wax and then a final dunk in cold water. It didn’t take long to dry in the sun in the 30′ heat.Batik Painting in Bali

I’m really pleased with my batik, my plan is to make it the centre of a quilt.Batik Painting in Bali

Widya has been doing batik for around 20 years and his work was amazing, the tiny details in the pictures was stunning.Batik by  Widya

The next day he took me to a batik factory where I could see the experts working and also I could buy a length. This is batik to dress-make with, rather than quilting, it is absolutely beautiful and it’s lovely to have a length of ‘proper Balinese batik’

Batik from Bali

The one place I didn’t get to for various reasons, was Jalan Sulawesi, a street in Dempasar which is full of shops selling batik fabrics for quilting, by the metre, jelly rolls, fat quarters…I’ll just have to go back for another holiday!Lotus garden in Bali

About craftycreeky

I live in a busy market town in Yorkshire with my husband, kids, dogs and chickens. I love trying new crafts, rediscovering old ones, gardening, walking...anything creative really I started this blog after my New Year resolution worked so well. My resolution (the first one I've ever kept!) was to post a photograph of my garden on Facebook every day. My hope was that I would then see what was good in the garden and not just weeds and work, which was my tendency. The unexpected side-effect was that I have enjoyed many more hours in the garden. I am hoping that 'The Crafty Creek' will have the same effect. Happy creating!
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15 Responses to Batik Painting in Bali

  1. Oh what glorious fun…thank you for sharing Bali with me. Perfect way to see Bali; through the eyes of Batik! Your piece is gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. katechiconi says:

    That sounds like just the sort of holiday I’d love. A pity I can’t fly much any more, or I’d be nagging the Husband to let me go!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. kathyreeves says:

    Oh WOW! What an awesome adventure this was!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Laura says:

    Loved ‘watching’ you work the Bali wax/painting method! How fun to have one-on-one instruction! Your lotus will become a beautiful keepsake when you find just the right quilt design to feature it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Manju says:

    Wow beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. claire93 says:

    oh wow! you look like a natural with the paint brush and all the different batik techniques and your finished fabric panel is gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. nanacathy2 says:

    What a wonderful way to spend a holiday and I love your finished results.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. KerryCan says:

    That’s an incredible experience, and perfect for someone who appreciates all things fabric like you do! Your piece is gorgeous–I will be very much looking forward to seeing the quilt you make with it, as well as your new dress!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Catherine says:

    This is incredible! What an amazing experience. Your lotus flower is so pretty, you did a brilliant job at this new craft.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. tialys says:

    Just the sort of activity holiday I would love! Have you any idea what you are going to make with your lovely dressmaking length?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Carole says:

    That was fascinating to read and your panel is gorgeous. Love the fabric you bought too 🙂


  12. Kate says:

    Wow! Your batik was beautiful! What a great experience that must have been!


  13. frejatravels says:

    wouw… soo beautiful

    Liked by 1 person

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