If there is any purpose for us in this life, isn’t it to help others who are less fortunate? With this thought in mind, Ms Amy Blair, founder and director of The Batik Boutique, started a batik project in 2013, with the aim to help refugees and families with poor backgrounds in Malaysia.
Almost ten years later, she runs a successful business, empowering the people behind the products they make. We had the pleasure to visit her in the office of The Batik Boutique at the Row, where we were invited for a batik workshop, to learn on the spot how to create batik art. And challenging it was!
Brush, pen, or copper stamp?
Upon arriving at the spacious office of The Batik Boutique, we meet Amy Blair and her bubbly team of batik artists. After an introduction to the why and how of the business, we are taken by batik artist Nana into the rich world of batik. Armed with a black apron, we’re learning to use the powerful tools of the batik making process. There seem to be so many different techniques to making batik! We’re getting the opportunity to practice with three different ones: a brush, copper stamps and a batik ‘pen’.
A big kettle in the middle of the table contains a boiling brown coloured soup, and Nana explains this is the wax which is used to create batik. It is mixed with rosin, to create the perfect wax mixture for our art.
How to unleash your inner artist…
While we practise on paper first, we find out that creating a piece of batik art is challenging; it is not easy at all to apply a nice-looking wax picture. We give it a few tries though, and we manage somehow to produce batik ‘art’. Respect for the real batik artists!
Dunk it in dye
After making a design for our personalised tumbler, we move on to the sink, where we soak our piece of cotton into a dye bath. We can choose between light blue, dark blue or black. This is where the magic happens and after the bath, the wax shows the patterns we previously created on the cotton.
We hang our cottons to dry and now we just need to be patient. Since the cotton is going through yet another process after drying, we’re hopeful to pick up the tumblers soon! Can’t wait to see the result…
Lookin’ great in batik
Since my 14-year-old daughter still has an eeny meeny size S, she is invited for a photo shoot at the studio. A few other participants of the workshop join in as well. Batik indeed does look amazing, and the fabrics used for the clothes feel very comfortable.
My daughter, who was reluctant at first to join me (“Batik? Can you eat that?”), left the venue afterward with a smile on her face. Was it the design for her tumbler she made, or the impromptu photoshoot in one of Amy’s gorgeous batik outfits? Either way, she’s probably The Batik Boutique’s youngest ambassador now!
What makes The Batik Boutique special?
The Batik Boutique is an award-winning social enterprise with a mission, to disrupt the cycle of poverty in Malaysia. Women from low-income backgrounds are trained to create batik textiles on natural fibres. This fabric is then sent to the seamstresses at the training centre to create products in beautiful batik designs.
To date, The Batik Boutique has worked with over 300 artisans and impacted the lives of more than 1,500 local beneficiaries. Each purchase directly benefits the artisan who made it. When you purchase from The Batik Boutique, you are shopping with purpose. Super cool!
More useful info
The Batik Boutique is located at the Row, 62 -1 Jalan Doraisamy, Kuala Lumpur. The flagship store on the ground floor is open 7 days a week, from 9am till 6pm. The other KL shop is located at 3, Jalan 26/70a, Desa Sri Hartamas. You can find their products here online. More info about The Batik Boutique here on their FB page.
If you’re keen to join one of the batik workshops, please have a look here for more information!
We were invited by the Batik Boutique. As always, our opinion is honest and our own.