Last saturday me and three graduates from de AOD visited a batik ‘factory’ near Galle. We had to wake up early to catch the bus at 8 in the morning. From the AOD we took a tuktuk to the bus station. Since there were 4 of us in one tuk is was not the most comfortable right ever, but one I will remember. Not because it was early, not because we had to sit in weird positions, but because I saw my first elephant! Even though you know Sri Lanka is filled with elephants, this I didn’t expect. Suddenly is was there, in the middle of the traffic in central Colombo. Just walking casually on the footpath. They explained he (or she) was probably on it’s way to a Buddhist temple nearby.
After my excitement about the elephant we found the bus that took us to Galle. After we arrived in Galle we had to take a tuk inlands. After a bumpy ride, again with the 4 of us in one tuk, we arrived at what was called the batik ‘factory’. Probably I have a western (or dutch) view on factories, but I always associate factories with big ugly buildings, a lot of machines and toxic fumes. This factory was nothing like that. It was a very friendly looking collection of found furniture surrounded by coconut trees under a little roof.
Because there was nobody when we arrived we had the time to take a look around and see the different parts of the ‘factory’. There was a place where they melt the wax to put on the fabric, barrels where they dye the fabric after they had put the wax on, and a place where they can cook the fabric to remove the wax. After an hour (Sri Lankan’s are not really strict in their timing) the owner of the factory and some workers arrived.
Sesha and Pradeep explained her the designs they had made for the Fuse It project. While discussing the designs, some changes had to be made according to the batik technique.
When you design something for batik you have to keep in mind that what you ‘draw’ with the wax will stay undyed. This means you cannot make a dark pattern or design on a light background, but only the other way around.
When all the designs were discussed she showed us how the ladies were making the batik. One lady was cracking the thick layer of wax, to give it the typically batik look. Another was using the melted wax to draw a pattern on the fabric.
It keeps amazing me how people can make such beautiful things in relatively primitive circumstances.

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