Kuala Lumpur: Batik Mecca!

Thursday May 9, 2013
OMG Quilters! Malaysia is the MECCA for BATIK!

I took at taxi to a place called Jadi Batek (30 Jalan Inai, Kuala Lumpur) and bought 16 half-meters of various fabrics and 4 meters of a single fabric – a total of 12 meters. The cost was $12.16 per meter after my “volume discount” (about what we’d pay in the US). The staff just couldn’t believe I was buying that many pieces of fabric – by the time they were finished cutting it, I had a crowd around me, including some Indian tourists. I showed them photos of the quilt top I made with Australian Aboriginal fabric and they all said various versions of “Oh! That’s what you are doing!”

Good grief – quilting is unheard of in Batik Central!

Compared to Indonesian batiks, Malaysian batiks are lighter and more vibrant in color with larger, simpler patterns created by the brush painting method. Batiks from Java or Sumatra in Indonesia, also very famous, tend to be darker and more ornate, with “canting” to create intricate patterns.

These framed Malaysian batiks are in the Jadi Batek workshop.

These fish are also done in Malaysian batik painting. Too bad they cost so many ringgits.

Of course Malasia is a Muslim country, so most batiks avoid human or animal images, relying more on spirals, leaves and flowers (but butterflies are apparently okay).

So here are my batik prints:

Here are some shots of the workshop at Jadi Batek where they produce the batiks they sell and offer courses for people in batik making – even “team building” courses for companies.

Here he is applying hot wax to create the lines of the design.

It’s not as easy as it looks to draw with hot wax.

Now he’s filling those spaces with paint – which can be blended.

Just for comparison, here’s the Indonesian “canting” tool – with a curve at the end. The wax is applied in more intricate dots and patterns than in Malaysian batik.

Indonesian canting tool. (www.expat.or.id)

My taxi driver waited for me and then took me to the Pusat Jualan Kraf (Heritage Ceramic Craft Exhibition museum).

Here’s a weaving display at the Craft Exhibition Museum, showing the traditional Malaysian cloth, ornate, with a lot of gold. The same thing we see on the employees at our hotel.

Greeter at the Shangri-La Hotel, wearing traditional dress.

Here’s another traditional Malaysian outfit on another hotel greeter; it made quite a first impression, but the hats reminded me of Jerry Lewis as a bell hop in the old movies.

Friday May 10th. Now I’m totally hooked on Malaysian batiks, so the next day I get a taxi guy to take me to another batik-making place called MyBatik (333 Persiaran Ritchie, Kuala Lumpur). I had called ahead and booked a class in batik making! So here I am, in this gorgeous outdoor batik workshop with personal instructor, a batik artist.

The outdoor workshop at MyBatik.

My pencil drawing – traced from my instructor’s sample.

I traced my teacher’s drawing in pencil, and then he stretched the cloth on a frame. Then came the tricky part – you dip this tiny pen with a tiny pitcher on it into hot wax and draw a line. The line always has to close – so that the paint has an area to fill. It’s not as easy as it looks – I hope the wax eventually comes out of my tan pants!

Here’s the first instructor before he ran off to the Mosque to pray (probably needed to after having me as a student…).

After the first instructor left to go to the Mosque to pray, a guy named “God Bless” took over the job of teaching me the batik process. I’m going to be hearing from God Bless again, because he thinks I can somehow pull some strings in the American quilt world and get him a job there. (I told him American quilters are nuts about batiks.)

Here’s my new friend God Bless, helping me to mix the colors.

So here’s my batik after it dried in the sun. Total cost for my class and the batik piece was under $25. After I quilt it up it should look pretty nice. I can’t wait to introduce Ethan and Noah to the world of batik on the next “Camp G and G.”

Martha – Madly Traveling Asia with Faucet Marketing Husband

Location:Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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3 thoughts on “Kuala Lumpur: Batik Mecca!

  1. I was born and raised in KL, currently residing in the U.S. I never got interested in batik (probably took it for granted too much). Anyway, I am visiting KL next Feb and will definitely give both these place a try. May I ask, since you taken classes in both places, which one do you like the best…in terms of techniques perhaps.

  2. I only took a class at MyBatik. I loved it because it was a smaller scale, outdoor, very personal experience – and in my case, one-on-one instruction. For my purposes (as a total beginner) it was perfect. The Jadi Batek showroom, gift shop, and artists’ studio is a much larger scale. They appear to offer classes for larger groups, but maybe you can get something in a class that fits your needs. If I were you, I would definitely visit both places. Jadi Batek is a little out of the main traffic, so I had my taxi driver wait while I did the class. Being from KL, you are probably good at arranging transportation. Good luck!

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