Field Trip to Craft Batik in Teluk Bahang
2014 Update: The current price is now RM25 for tourists. DLRC members can tell them they are connected to Dalat school and get a price of RM12 per painting.
After our successful outing to the Royal Selangor School of Hard Knocks, Our Travel Lifestyle and the Living in Penang kids decided to try another field trip together. We wanted to do something distinctly Malaysian, and quickly, because we’re about to say goodbye to Our Travel Lifestyle as they travel on to New Zealand. So the little one and I went on a scouting mission to Craft Batik in Teluk Bahang and arranged a tour and a chance to do some batik painting at Craft Batik in Teluk Bahang.
Craft Batik has moved locations as of April 2013. They have moved back to their old location, which had burned down in 2001. After the fire, they had moved to rental property along the main road, before the traffic circle. Their new old location is across from the mosque, on the same road along the way to Escape and the Butterfly Farm.
When I went to go talk with them, they seemed unprepared to accept school children. They kept asking me, which school I am associated with, and how many children. Repeatedly, I explained that we are 4 homeschooling children, not associated with any school at all. Wow, that was hard to get into their heads.
Finally, the person at the front desk went to a back office somewhere, and passed the request up the chain. And they agreed to allow 5 kids (4 homeschoolers and a 2 year old) to come and do a painting.
I had to poll the children what pictures they wanted to paint. Their choices are butterflies, a flower, a fish, or a butterfly and a flower. The lone boy chose the fish (obviously the least girly of the choices). The 4 girls were split. Two chose the butterflies and two chose the flower and the butterfly.
The next day we arrived, with the children in tow, for our tour.
The batik factory is still under construction. We shoehorned ourselves into a tour, even though they really aren’t ready to accept groups of children like this. This really explained why they kept asking me what school I was representing. They wanted to know if they could call me back when they were ready. (Someday I will get used to Asian indirect communication)
They had set up these painting frames at adult height so when it came time for the kids to paint, they couldn’t reach. We convinced them to restretch the cloths across the lower part of the frame. Once everything was rearranged the kids were given a short lesson on painting (which they ignored) and then the painting began.
How Batik works
A design is drawn on a piece of cloth. It might be done in pencil first and then the wax is drawn over the pattern. For the more skilled artisans, it might be done in wax directly. The wax is a barrier for the colors to keep them from bleeding all over the cloth. When all the paint is applied and dried, the cloth is put through a wash that removes the wax and fixes the paint to keep it from running.
The childrne had a ball. There were many colors to choose from and all so bright and vibrant. They liked how the cloth grabbed the color and made it spread out, and how it stopped when it reached the wax outlines.
They worked at their paintings much longer than I expected. They filled every nook and cranny with color and the older ones tried mixing their colors to make gradients (perhaps they were paying attention during the lesson). It came out really well, but we needed to leave them on the racks to dry. After that, the staff at Craft Batik would put it through the salt bath to fix the colors, and make sure they won’t run when we brought them home.
When they were ready to call it all done, they all made their way to the washroom and got (most) of the paint off their hands and arms, and in some cases cheeks.
I went back to the front desk to let them know that they were done and I was sort of dismissed by the lady as if to say “Ok, bye.” But I had to insist that they send a tour guide to show the kids more about the factory and batik painting.
As I said, the factory is still being constructed behind the area where the kids painted, but there was still batik production happening for their clients. They sell a lot to the local hotels to produce batik uniforms. One of the pieces in production was going to be a wall hanging.
We had fun, and it only cost us RM 10 a child. This was not the most educational or refined tour we’ve been on, but for a kids activity, it was great. If you want to give it a shot, call Craft Batik at +60-4229-1284.