Last Thursday I demonstrated a few basic batik methods to the women at the former Meg school. We made a class sample using some very basic dyes and ended with something that looked very much like kindergarten art. The women were hesitant to work with the hot wax and after all was said and done I am pretty sure they thought I was crazy. Though I learned a lot I was pretty convinced the lesson was a flop and we were going to have to start again at the beginning. I left the lesson by saying “On Monday bring in anything you think might make a good dye and we will experiment”.
This morning when I arrived at the Meg school I found 30 women excitedly holding jars of fresh flowers and scraps of fruit, soup cans filled with mashed leaves of varying green and yellow hues, and several small bags of charcoal. I didn’t even make it through the door before my interpreter Doris started relaying me their questions. It took me little more than a brief review of the process and some quick reminders to get them started. Within an hour the entire group had waxed designs and were sitting on the grass experimenting with their new dyes. The same women who were sitting in the back of the room not participating on Thursday were laughing and singing as they mashed fruit and ground leaves. Every once in a while a woman from the group would yell something at a child playing near by, to which the child would run off somewhere and return with half an avocado or a mortar and pestle. It was easily the most energetic and rewarding class I have ever taught. I will be going back for the next three days to continue their designs and help them perfect some dye recipes. I can’t wait to see some of the masterpieces that are sure to come from this class.