Recently, he traveled to Penang, Malaysia, and the employees in his group were kind enough to scout out a handmade batik place for Joe to visit. This is a company that does the traditional art of wax resist printing or painting, then dyeing the fabric to create batik.
First rule of thumb when asking for Malaysian batik is the pronunciation. Here in the US, we pronounce this work as baa (sound a sheep makes) teak’ (like the wood). The emphasis is on the second syllable. In Malaysia, they pronounce it Baa’ (sound a sheep makes) tick (as in tick tock). The emphasis is on the first syllable.
Once we had the correct pronunciation sorted out, the first few times I asked Joe to bring me back some batik, he picked up the imitation batik made for tourists. The weave of the cotton was very loose, indicating low thread count per inch. Also, anything with the words, “Malaysia” or “Penang” printed on it was another indication it was not what I wanted. The last thing to look for is whether the print goes through to both sides or not. Batik looks the same front and back due to the dying process. When you work with fabric for a living, you tend to become fabric snobs and desire good quality materials.
Now that he knows of a good location for batik in Penang, I will have lots of handmade batik prints in my future direct from the artisans who made it! I will also educate him on choosing designs… the butterflies are great, but the helmet-looking image is odd not my taste. (Carla note: Thanks to wonderful blog readers who correctly informed me that the helmet looking image is in fact a “Wau,” a type of Malaysian kite.)
Hope you have enjoyed this post about Malaysian batik. Regards, Carla