Threads Of Life

Materials & Techniques


he three pages in this section explore Techniques, Natural Dyes and Materials. The Techniques page explores extraordinary diversity of textile weavers’ decorative skills from basic weaving, through supplementary warp and weft patterning, discontinuous weft and warp-wrapping methods, to the three ikat processes (warp-, weft- and double-ikat), and batik.

The Natural Dyes page surveys the main dye plants and how they are used, and sometimes misused.

Outlines are given for the indigo blue, Morinda red, and the complex oiling and mordanting that precedes the red dye work. We also highlight the work of Threads of Life’s nonprofit sister organization, the Bebali Foundation, in its documentation of over 300 dye plant species across the archipelago, many used to produce minor colors, to manipulate the oiling process chemistry, or vary the shades of the dominant colors.

The Materials page documents the main fiber species and their uses. Cotton is the dominant textile fiber, and the steps to produce handspun cotton are indicated. Two main species of palm are utilized for their leaf fibers in basketry and roofing in the dry landscapes of southeastern Indonesia, whereas rattan has been the main basketry fiber for Indonesia’s rainforest peoples.

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Mau Naek from Timor


Bebali Cloth Revival


Ei Ledo from Savu