The Threads of Life Gallery in Ubud, Bali, sells high-value heirloom-quality textiles and baskets made to an exquisite standard usually only seen in museums. Each piece is made with local materials and natural dyes and is bought, following fair trade principles, directly from over 1000 weavers on 12 islands across Indonesia.
Starting in 1998, work has focussed on natural dyed textiles as these have both the highest ceremonial value within the communities where they are made, and bring the greatest income to their weavers and dyers.
These textiles and baskets express traditional aesthetics and embody meanings associated with an indigenous worldview that Threads of Life conveys to its customers through videos, exhibits, and careful curation of the textiles and baskets on display. By aligning with indigenous culture in its fieldwork and marketing, Threads of Life alleviates rural poverty, helps weavers to form independent producer groups, and facilitates their sustainable management of their natural dye resources.
The Farmer to Fabric collection of hand-dyed natural-dyed fabrics brings the production values of our partner weaving communities to the work of our own dye studio in rural Bali: we use natural dyes by natural processes, avoiding synthetic additives; we work by hand, so that the mastery of our in-house dyers is evident in the look and feel of every unique piece; and we source our dyes directly from the farmers we have trained to grow and process the dyes.
This collection builds on natural dye practices with indigo, Ceriops-brown, mud-black, Morinda-red, and other traditional colours that we have studied since 1998 in collaboration with indigenous weavers across Indonesia. Through this research we have been able to discover where the transmission of knowledge between generations had broken down and facilitate revitalisation of traditions. With Farmer to Fabric we can now also support sustainable cultivation and use of the dye plants as a way of supporting the husbands of the weavers we work with.
Through our one-week small-group Workshops on fiber arts with natural dyes at our natural dye studio and botanical garden in Ubud, Bali, Threads of Life shares its field research experience studying, documenting, testing, and teaching the archipelago’s natural dye traditions.
Led by our senior research dyers and staff botanist, these workshops employ surface design techniques including batik, ikat and shibori. Agus Ismoyo and Nia Fliam come from Jogjakarta in Java to teach both the Tribawana creative process that is Ismoyo’s cultural heritage and guide the application of that process to Ismoyo and Fliam’s chosen art form of batik. Our in-house workshops led by Komang Sujata, Wayan Sukadana and Made Maduarta explore the dyers art through our All About Indigo, Nature’s Colours and Original Colours workshops, develop batik skills through the Batik Week workshop series, and introduce backstrap loom weaving and weft ikat with our Weavers Week workshops.