I’ve just returned from an intriguing textile tour of Bali, Indonesia, with Deb Roberts’ World of Quilts Travel and Textile Tours. My expectations were to touch, see, and buy the famous Bali batik fabrics (and that was an incredible experience), but the most fascinating aspect of the journey was learning about the culture and traditions of the Balinese people. The very culture and traditions are literally woven into the textiles that come from Bali, and it was an amazing opportunity to spend time in the villages with the warm and gracious people of Bali.
Most of our tour group met at the airport in Los Angeles, gathering from Alaska, Minnesota, Idaho, Oregon, and many other parts of the country. Two more ladies met us in Bali, as they traveled from their homes in South Africa. It was a diverse group of twenty-seven fabric lovers, ranging in age I’d guess from mid-forties to mid-eighties. When I’m in my eighties, may I be so lucky to still go on adventures like this! One husband came along with his wife. He was a trouper when it came time for all the shopping!
We flew from Los Angeles to Taipei, Taiwan, and then onto Bali, Indonesia, arriving after twenty-three hours of travel. Our guide, Supy, met us at the airport and took great care of “the ladies and gentleman” for the next ten days, sharing his knowledge of culture and textiles with us. The courteous Bali service throughout our tour was impeccable. Our first four days were spent at an amazing 5-star hotel in the village of Ubud with day trips out to villages to see the fabrics, arts, and sights.
We visited batik factories, a jewelry factory, weaving factories, and a textile cooperative, but I’ll share my batik experiences today. First of all, my image of a factory wasn’t even close to the reality of the Bali batik factories. The physical condition of the actual workplace is primitive by our industrial standards to say the least.
As I watched the process of the intricate drawing with wax and stamping the fabric with the chops, I gained an incredible appreciation for the craftsmanship of the textile artists. After waxing, the fabrics are dipped in vats of dye (numerous times to get the deep colors), and then boiled to remove the wax. I tried my hand at stamping my own piece of batik to bring home as a souvenir.