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Posts Tagged ‘indonesian art’

Yogyakarta Day 3: Friday, August 4, 2017

 

Silver flowers with red centers

My first stop for my custom tour was a silver jewelry workshop in Kota Gede, the old capital of the region. These intricate flowers are a good example of the style of jewelry made here.

My driver for the day was Haru, the concierge at the Hotel Jambuluwuk that I had made these arrangements with the day before. It was another private tour, but I was paying a good rate for it. I am grateful that the stipend I received from the Teachers for Global Classrooms program was generous enough to cover the costs for these extra five days. I am learning a great deal, and it is complimenting what I saw and did during the three weeks of the regular program so that I will have true expertise in several aspects of Indonesian culture that can enrich my teaching.

Making silver grains

My driver, Haru, knew this workshop where they do tours. This man was cutting exact lengths of silver wire, then heating to melting with the blow torch to cause the wire pieces to pool into beads of exactly the same size. The beads are glued onto the jewelry piece using a yellow paste made from red piling-piling seeds, then soldered onto the piece with a blowtorch.

My first stop was to travel to a nearby city called Kota Gede, which was the traditional capital of area. It is only a few kilometers away from the center of Yogyakarta, and the two cities have mostly merged together. The only way I knew we were there was that the streets narrowed and became more twisted, a sure sign that we had entered the heart of an old city.

Silver forge and quench

This forge is used to melt an alloy of about 92-95% silver with 8-5% copper (sterling silver), which is cast into bars and quenched.

Haru knew of a place that makes and sells silver jewelry and that could show me the process of how it is done. I had made my desires known, and there was no established tour that I could find online that did all that I wanted to see, so that is why I arranged this custom tour. There had been one tour that had tourists riding bicycles out to Prambanan, and that sounded nice, but given the traffic and tropical heat and humidity in Indonesia I decided it was best not to book that one.

Silver plate press

The sterling silver bars are passed through this press and squeezed down into silver plate, which is then drawn through a die to make silver wire of various gauges.

We pulled into the small parking area in front of the factory and walked in. Haru had called ahead, and a man was waiting to take me downstairs from the sales room and out the back door and across a courtyard to the workshop itself. Not a lot was going on – it depends on the day and the demand, so only a few people were working and they weren’t doing any melting or forging. But they did have photos and explanations of the whole process.

Butterfly ring

Making rings with butterfly mounts. The sterling silver has taken on a coppery color, but is finally cleaned and polished to provide the bright white silvery finish prized in the final jewelry.

The silversmiths of Kota Gede are known for their fine filigree silver work. They start by taking pure silver and alloying it with 7 to 9% copper (making it into sterling silver). This is done by melting them together in a crucible, then pouring the alloy into mold to form a thin rod.

Harley Indian silver

Some of the pieces are free-standing sculptures encased in plexiglass cases, such as this Harley-Davidson Indian motorcycle sculpture. It was a bit outside my price range.

The rod is then forced through a series of holes in a hard steel plate to make a wire of a specific gauge. This is done using a device with cranks and gears. The wire is forced through successively smaller holes to make thinner and thinner wire.

The wire is then cut into lengths and curled, or short, thin pieces are heated with an acetylene blowtorch on a ceramic plate to cause them to melt into small beads. The wires and beads are glued together using a paste made from red piling-piling seeds to form a piece such as an earring or broach, and the whole thing is heated with a torch to solder it together. The paste acts like a flux to melt the silver at a lower temperature. Then the piece is carefully cleaned and polished to get the white satiny sheen of silver.

Prambanan-Garuda-Wayong silver

Silver encased in lucite, showing Prambanan, the Garuda Pacasila symbol, and wayang figures.

After watching the workmen making the parts and preparing to make pieces, I walked back to the showroom with my guide and looked at the pieces there. I was surprised at their overall low cost for the quality of the workmanship. There were some more expensive works, of course, such as horse carriages or becak drivers or wayang puppets or even models of Borobudur. But there were also silver filigree flowers and butterflies, dragons and phoenixes, all with delicate traceries of silver wire. I found a section that showed silver plated pieces instead of sterling silver, and I found some I liked for a very reasonable price. I bought two pieces for my wife, knowing that she would love them.

Silver flowers

Silver wire filigree flowers on sale at the Kota Gede workshop showroom. I bought a flower broach similar to the large own second from the right, and another design with leaves and stems.

I have been through many silver mines in my explorations of the American West, including ones in Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. I certainly have documented how silver is mined and refined. But this was the first time I saw it turned into finished products, which completes the story of silver for my Elements Unearthed project and this website.

Silver filigree flowers

Silver filigree flowers, made from wire and beads glued together by piling-piling paste and soldered with a blow torch, then cleaned and polished. This was more in line with what I wanted, and I bought two silver-plated flower broaches for my wife. She really enjoys them.

My second stop for this day was to be at the Monggo Chocolate Factory where I hoped to see the whole process of chocolate making. First we stopped at a chocolatier next door to the silversmiths, and it was interesting but this wasn’t a factory. All they were doing was packaging the chocolate. They had several flavors, including durian fruit chocolate (what a terrible thing to do to chocolate!). I tried some mango flavored chocolate and bought a bar of it, but it couldn’t compare to Armano Artisan Chocolate in Orem, Utah where I live. I’ve been through their factory and have seen the whole process.

Silver dove

A beautiful silver filigree dove in a lucite case. This took some time to do, gluing in each wire with piling-piling paste, soldering the whole piece with a blowtorch, then polishing it to a white finish.

We wound up having difficulty finding the Monggo Chocolate Factory despite it being all over the Internet as a thing to do in Kota Gede. There wasn’t much to see: a store counter with samples and some people pouring and molding chocolates in a back room, but without good enough lighting to really get a decent photo through the window. They did have a timeline of chocolate history I found interesting.

Pink flower

A pink frangipani flower growing outside the silver workshop at Kota Gede. Many of the designs were based on these flowers.

After only a few minutes there, we loaded back into the car and took the twisty roads back out of the center of Kota Gede. Haru provided me with a small lunch and water, and I also ate my chocolate bar. We were heading now past the airport and out to the most important stop today: the Hindu temples of Prambanan.

Chocolate Monggo

We stopped next door at a chocolate outlet store, then did some searching to find the famous Monggo chocolate factory, which was a bit disappointing. There were no tours, despite claiming such on their website.

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Yogyakarta Day 3: Friday, August 4, 2017

David painting batik

David Black paiting a batik floral design at the Museum Batik Yogyakarta

Before going up to my room the day before, I sat down with the concierge at the front desk as they had a sign saying they could work out any tour we wanted. I had some specific things I wanted to still see and do in Yogyakarta, so I designed a custom tour. But knowing that I would need to take it easy in the morning due to the strenuous day I had the day before, I decided to start the tour at 1:00 and have the morning to do what I wanted.

Vine covered tree

I walked past this tree, covered in vines, on my way to the museum.

When I woke up after a nice sleep in, I showered and dressed and headed down to the lobby for breakfast. It had been too early the day before to eat the complimentary breakfast buffet, but I was hungry this morning. They had some good items, such as a delicious bread pudding, fruit, and different juices.

Types of canting

Canting (pronounced “chanting”) are pens that hold the batik wax (malam) and come in different styles and spout sizes depending on the types of lines or dots desired.

I looked over my computer to see what to do this morning. I hadn’t made it to the Kraton yet – they are supposed to have nice dancing and wayang puppet shows. I also wanted to learn more about batik and perhaps take a class, but was afraid that would take too long. One other place I had researched was the Museum Batik Yogyakarta. I discovered it was very near my hotel – only about two blocks away. So I grabbed my camera and a bottle of water and headed out.

Drawn cartoon

The first step is to draw a pencil line drawing or cartoon that is traced through the cloth.

I walked to the intersection near the hotel, then turned east and walked two blocks. I turned north for half a block, then took a smaller alleyway back west and around to the entrance to the museum (I had to follow the signs). I must have been early or before opening time, because they didn’t have anyone ready to purchase my ticket. But they got their act together and I paid a small fee to enter. The museum itself began with a display of different types of canting, some from various provinces or with various types of openings, for doing single and double dots or lines, etc. It had a display of how to make the wax for batik, called malam, and of different dye stuffs. It showed some small stoves designed by this museum to use a votive candle to melt the wax. It showed how patterns are drawn.

Waxed lines

The traced pencil lines on the cloth are then draw over with malam (wax) using a canting.

I wasn’t allowed to photograph the batik samples themselves, but they were OK with my photographing the process. The museum itself was rather dark without much lighting, so I hope I held still enough to get some photos in focus. A lady came to act as a guide for me by this time, and I photographed a variety of cap designs. They had a huge embroidered tapestry of the Last Supper (based on Da Vinci’s painting) and of Jerusalem (the lady who started this museum was a Christian).

Caps

Alternatively, a design can be stamped or printed onto the fabric by dipping these copper strip patterns, called “cap” (pronounced “chop”) into the malam wax and pressing it onto the cloth. The museum had many caps on display.

I also took photos of a woman doing some batik waxing and of their store. I bought some malam wax and the burner kits, and they gave me samples of bark used for dyes (possibly sandalwood). All of this was packaged into a nice bag.

Painting dyes

Samples of batik dyes. They are now made from synthetic materials, but the museum also had displays of natural dyestuffs. In this case, the dyes are painted on with a brush between the waxed lines, something like paint-by-numbers or watercolors. They had these samples so visitors could practice painting designs.

I was the only one touring the museum, and it was a bit out of the way, but I learned a lot and got some good photos of the procees. Combined with what I got at the workshop two days before, and my own class in Jakarta, I now have good footage to use for a video on batik.

I walked back to the hotel and laid down for a while to cool off in the air conditioning. Noon time prayer started, and two different mosques were calling out the salat. I recorded some video of it, because the stereophonic sound was quite compelling. The muezzins in these mosques are very good.

Hotel circles cap

A cap with circular patterns in the Hotel Jambuluwuk lobby.

Preparing for third color

To get multiple colors in batiks that are immersion dyed, the wax must be applied several times to different areas and on both sides of the cloth. Here, a lady is waxing an area to cover a color so that the batik can be dyed a third color.

Historic batik

I wasn’t allowed to take close up photos of most of the batik patterns, but my guide did allow me to take this photo showing the samples of batiks they had displayed at the museum.

Dutch and royal patterns

A combination of influences are seen in this batik, where the patterns in the background represent Indonesian royalty. The floral patterns are a Dutch influence.

Single color batik

A single-color batik, with the wax removed to leave white un-dyed cloth.

Styles of canting

Different styles of canting. Based on my trials at school, using a canting is tricky as the wax has to remain at just the right temperature; too hot, and it will be too thin and run or splatter. Too cool, and it will solidify and plug the spout of the canting.

Painted batik

A hand painted batik. The wax acts as a barrier to prevent colors from spilling or spreading, and it is then boiled out to leave white lines where the wax was.

David tracing cartoon

I am practicing tracing a cartoon design through the cloth.

Kit for sale

The museum had a gift shop with batik kits for sale, including a small folding paper stove with votive candle for melting the malam, wedge-shaped chunks of malam itself, cantings, dyes, and patterns. I didn’t buy entire kits, as I figured we already had the dyes from our tie dye experiments and I can get embroidery hoops easily in America. So I purchased several stoves, more malam, and more cantings for my students. They through in a bag of the reddish bark in the jar, which I believe is sandalwood.

 

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Yogyakarta Day 1: Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dragon batik-undistort

A Chinese dragon batik to be displayed as art, done by a master.

On my first afternoon in Yogyakarta, Indonesia I walked from the Hotel Jambuluwuk to Malioboro Street. On the way, two people diverted me to a batik exhibition. Although I was a bit suspicious that so many people wanted to help me find the place, I wanted to buy some authentic batik, not just prints. So off I went.

Batik art 4

Traditional Javanese fold art batik, for sale at the batik exhibition.

The batik workshop was just off of a main road that runs perpendicular to Malioboro Street. It is a school for training batik master artists. It takes four years to complete the program. Examples of student and master works were stacked up along the walls and hanging up everywhere, each in a temporary wooden frame labeled with a letter. The price list depended on the letters, and the pieces I really liked were too expensive for me. I knew I would probably spend more here than for all other souvenirs combined elsewhere, but I had found what I was looking for: true artistic batik, not prints. These are not for clothing but to frame and hang up.

Abstract artist

Batik artist showing an example of his work. His designs are abstract and polychromatic. He also explained the process to us.

There were many styles, such as abstract works with mainly blues and purples, loosely drawn images in oranges, reds, and crimsons which I liked a great deal. Some were realistic, some were stylistic. I finally found the cheapest ones in a corner marked “K” and found a particular style of dotted outlines showing images of Buddhas and Ganeshas from Borobudur and Prambanan. There was a small volcano image done by the orange-crimson stylist that I picked out. I was able to put them up against an LED light to see how the light transmitted through the cloth.

Batik art

Stacks of batik art awaiting sale at the “exhibition.” Prices depended on the status of the artist and size of the batik: student works sold for less than masters’ works, and smaller less than larger. You can see the styles of various artists here – the abstract artist of the previous photo on the bottom right, the folk art style at the bottom middle, and so on. I spent quite a bit of time looking for the least expensive yet attractive batiks that also provided a sense of Yogyakarta.

In a side room people were demonstrating how to do batik to the many tourists there. I was the only American, but there were Australians and Europeans from various places watching. A young man was talking about how batik is done while a woman demonstrated the process. I videotaped what he was saying. He was the artist who did the blue-purple abstract works. After he was done, another artist came up for the next group. He was the master who did the free-style red and crimson works, including the volcano I quite liked. I got some good photos and videos here.

Woman with canting 3

A woman demonstrating the process of batik. She is dipping her canting pen into a pot of melted malam, or batik wax, and tracing the wax along drawn lines on the cloth. Some artists pre-draw intricate patterns, others draw freehand. Some paint dye inside the lines, others create a more general dyed pattern with the wax keeping areas white like a blueprint.

I decided, after quite a bit of searching, to buy three of the student projects with the dotted outlines – two Buddhas, one in shades of magenta with a craquelure finish and one in blues. The other was a yellow-green Ganesha. Then I decide to buy the volcano, which I showed to the artist. He confirmed it was one of his, and even posed holding it up – but he insisted on taking it out of its frame and putting the frame around himself, since he was the greatest work of art. Funny guy. Altogether I spent about $70 U.S. for these four pieces. That’s less than $20 each, which is not bad for original batik art. Perhaps if I had time to search I could have found cheaper stuff, but here I had the added value of meeting the artists themselves. Despite the agents pulling us in to this place, I did not feel ripped off or hustled while there. It saved me time and I got to see some truly beautiful pieces, as you can tell from my photos, which really don’t do them very much justice.

Most valuable artist

A piece of batik that I bought, and the artist who created it. This is a painting of Mt. Merapi, near Yogyakarta. He felt that he was an even greater piece of art, which is why he is framing himself. The piece of the dragon and the horses are also his works.

Shopping spree 1

Altogether I bought four pieces of artistic batik, three by a student that had similar designs – two of buddhas from Borobudur and one of a Ganesha from Prambanan. For these pieces, the student used wax dots to follow outlines, but different areas of cloth were also waxed and dyed separately; the outer areas were also crumbled by had to make a craquelure pattern. The Gunung Merapi piece is on the right. My crazy leather hat is in front. I two other items were bought later, as described in my next post.

Batik art 5

This is a nice piece – I like the play of colors, but it was a bit out of my price range.

Batik art 3

A highly ornate piece where the colors are painted between the lines of wax.

Woman with fan-horses batiks

Two different styles of batik: on the left, the design is pre-drawn on cloth and the wax added to the lines, then the areas between are painted in with dyes like a paint-by-numbers picture. On the left, a free-hand design is drawn with wax, then the entire piece colored in one pass. Sometimes a cross between these two methods is used by waxing over large areas and dyeing others, then alternating.

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