The Batik Mask Makers

9.20.2013

I imagined there to be a large warehouse with endless carvers and a long line up of painters, sanders, etc.  But as we pulled up it seemed that only a family lived here.  Our new life long friend, Toto took us to the very back where there were only 2 open huts.  There was 1 carver/artist and 3 sanders smoothing off the masks.  There were no tourists and it seemed that it was rare for foreigners to be there.


The carver didn't speak English so Toto generously interpreted for us.  I wanted the carver to know that I was an artist as well and that I genuinely just wanted to see how these masks were created.  He allowed me to sit and watch, as he hacked away at the wood.
    
We watched him work for about 20 minutes using his hands as much as his feet.  It turns out he had been a carver since he was a boy and was trained by a famous local wood carver.  We found out that his tools were made from old Mercedes German cars, and that they believed it to be the toughest steel. Their tools were extremely sharp and the carver was moving so quickly that he made the wood seem as soft as butter. It was such an amazing experience for me to be able to see the art of Indonesia up close and personal, we were so grateful for Toto and his time he took to take us there.

So I will quickly jot down the process of how these wooden masks are made.  The carver is the only one who designs the masks and said that he gets inspiration from the Indonesian performances.  Once the mask is carved and smoothed down it would move to the next room to be painted.  There were 4 women sitting on the floor decorating the masks with the batik technique.  Indonesia is really well known for their batik, it is a wax resist dying technique that is always done by hand.  Once they do many layers of batik and dying they then boil the wood to remove all the wax. Once boiled they lay them out in the sun to dry and seal them with varnish.

22 comments:

janis said...

so talented!

LSto125 said...

Wow, so amazing! They are such talented people. I loved your photos sequencing the process. Such a great experience for you!

scruggers said...

everything is so rich and lovely..what true craftsmanship. Thanks for sharing what you got to witness...what a rare experience!

meg bird said...

Oh my word! How interesting they use metal from cars. So beautiful, thanks for taking the time to share.

Emily said...

I'm starting to think I should just give you money when you go on your trips to bring me back something! LOL!! Oh wow! This is probably my favorite post.

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