Behind the scenes – ‘Artistic Journeys’ (part two)

(Watch the episode of Artistic Journeys, Batik here and read part one here)

Based on some of the designs shown in part one, the patterns were drawn out on paper to size to send to Pak Hendri and his team in Indonesia.

batik paper patterns

Due to time and cost constraints unfortunately, only the centre collar design utilising the Sawat motif was selected.

The trip to Solo and Jogja was a whirlwind, with only two days total spent in lovely Indonesia. The team was very nice and I couldn’t have asked for better company! Here’s a peek at them in action:

canting makers


The experts we met – Pak Hendri and Mami Kato – were so warm and welcoming! It was really inspiring to hear them talk about their passion for Batik. What struck me most was Pak Hendri saying how the inhalation and exhalation while drawing with hot wax is like breathing your soul and life into the cloth to make it a living piece of art.

To him, the life in the fabric is a very visible difference between hand-drawn batik and printed ‘imitation’ batik. (For less experienced people like me, another way to tell is that real hand-drawn batik material will look almost the same on the front and back whereas printed fabric will be much stronger on the front and faded on the back).

Okay, back to challenge of designing something. As the time in Indonesia was only enough for filming the essential portions, there wasn’t much time for me to create the entire collar piece as designed. The team there was enlisted to help recreate it and we had gave them specific instructions and provided additional synthetic colours to help make the batik collar design as shown in part one.

However, I guess there was some miscommunication perhaps due to language and the piece came back like this instead:

red batik

Unfortunately there were additional lines added in and the colours were vastly different. The background colour wasn’t meant to be red either but I guess this is an interesting take on it! They also decided to come up with their own colour schemes on the smaller non-collar Sawat motif drawings that were sent over in the first draft series:

sawat motifs

These colours were much prettier and we decided to go with these for the clothing designs. Unforunately, they weren’t in the original collar shape design and so *ding ding!* challenge number two: still fixing this onto the collar area of the designs I was meant to make. (My trusty pair of chicken scissors decided to join in for the photo above…)

It was quite a rush having to do up these dresses as the motifs only came back a week or two before the final filming session and I hadn’t catered for this compressed timeline in my work schedule. But thankfully everything worked out fine and the two casual dresses were made and filmed :)

batik dress

second batik dress

p/s some of you have asked if I usually work in the studio that was on the show and sadly no – I work from home in my bedroom but the small space didn’t allow for much angles for the camera unfortunately. So they found a temporary space in a pretty shophouse to film in. One day, perhaps :)


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