Central to Threads of Life’s and the Bebali Foundation’s work with over 1000 weavers on 12 islands across Indonesia has been 15 years of field research studying, documenting, testing, and teaching the archipelago’s natural dye traditions. We are now bringing this experience to an international audience by teaching one- and two-week small-group workshops on fiber arts with natural dyes at our natural dye studio and botanical garden in Ubud, Bali.
Led by international teachers and Threads of Life’s senior research dyers and staff botanist, and hosted by Threads of Life founders Jean Howe and William Ingram, 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. Aboubakar Fofana brings his Malian heritage to several extended workshops exploring the refinement of the dyers art with a particular focus on indigo and mud dyeing. Our in-house workshops led by Komang Sujata, Wayan Sukadana and Made Maduarta explore the dyers art through our Nature’s Colours and Original Colours workshops, develop batik skills through the Batik Week workshop series, and introduce backstop loom weaving and weft ikat with our Weavers Week workshops.
Depending on the workshop, participants’ projects may be dyed using traditional Indonesian recipes for indigo (Indigofera tinctoria, Strobilanthes cusia), browns (Ceriops tagal), red (Morinda citrifolia), black (mud dye), yellow (Artocarpus heterophyllus), and other colors. Our approach to natural dyeing is based on the traditions we study and seeks plant-sourced dyes by plant-sourced processes and avoids synthetic additives or mordants. We dye with fresh plants from our garden of dried plant materials from communities we work with, and ensure responsible harvesting by maintaining a clear chain-of-custody for each dye.