Episode 188 – Fjords & Fabrics

February 5, 2022 55°F/13°C


We awoke this morning to the soul-nourishing views of verdant green hills, sparkling waters, and deep valleys nestled under a gentle fog as our ship made its leisurely way through the fjords of Darwin’s Channel near Isla Italia, before heading back out into the Pacific around noon.

The view peeking over the railing of our balcony midmorning.
Here’s where we were this morning, among the coastal islands off Chile.
Top: two spectacular photos taken by fellow passenger Robert Rothley, who posted them to our Facebook cruise group even before I was awake this morning, and graciously allowed me to share them.
Bottom: one of my later morning photos.

It’s always a treat when the day’s lecture offerings include a talk by the ever-interesting Dr. Linda Bradley. Today’s textile talk was entitled “Batik Designs : Much More Than Tie-Dye”, and took us through increasingly complex methods of creating patterns on fabric using dyes.

Most of us are familiar with, and have even tried, tying rubber bands around wet twisted fabric and dipping it into dyes to create spirals and sunbursts on T-shirts. Fewer of us have tried the painstaking resist-dye process of batik, which involves drawing or stamping wax designs onto fabric and then dying it, removing and reapplying wax, and re-dying, sometimes multiple times.

In Bora Bora, pareos are created by tie-dying using photo-reactive “sun dyes” which allow the colours to be subtly changed by overlaying design elements on the wet fabric before drying it in the sun. When the overlaid templates are removed, a pattern is created over the tie-dye.

Dr. Bradley wearing a dress made from pareos similar to the one displayed in the right-hand photo, purchased in Bora Bora.
The most complex patterns are Batik Tulis, done by hand with hot wax, applied using a copper tube called a Tjanting, drawn onto fabric. Naturally, these labour intensive batiks are also the most expensive.
The second most labour intensive process is Batik Tjap, which uses a block with a copper wire design, dipped in hot wax, stamped onto fabric. Key to this process is lining up the stamp perfectly with its neighbour to produce a perfectly aligned design. A sarong may just need to be my souvenir from Malaysia next November!

A more modern and less expensive process than either Tulis or Tjap is Roller Printing. Think of this as similar to printing colour comics on a 3-colour press, but using several “layers” of wax as each colour is dipped.

In the realm of “ewww, really?” Linda shared that one of the best ways to “set” fabric dyes is the traditional process of soaking the finished product in stale urine. Remember to rinse your fabric well!

Speaking of rinsing, it was an opportune day to do a load of laundry. It really is quite wonderful having access to bright clean laundry rooms on each passenger deck.

We spent an otherwise quiet sea day, with Ted curating and archiving photos, and me taking advantage of afternoon nap time.

It was French night in the World Café, with lots of tempting delicacies, but we were in the mood for comfort food, so ordered a freshly baked pepperoni pizza to share. Mmmmmmmm.

One comment

  1. I remember doing batik with my fellow teachers as a lunchtime activity in the 70’s. After which I did it with students. I seen to remember it involved electric skillets and blocks of wax. Oh my. Thank you for unearthing this memory!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s