The Amazing Batik Art Of Indonesia (And How It’s Made!)

Colorful patterns. Intricate designs. Vivid landscapes. One of the most iconic things about Indonesian culture is the batik art and batik clothing. It is also an important part of the country’s history. So of course while I was exploring Indonesia on motorcycle of course I had to pause in Yogyakarta briefly to attend a week of batik school.

Beautiful batik art of Indonesia

  It should be noted that there are no shortage of batik classes targeted towards foreigners which cost anywhere between 120,000-200,000 IDR (roughly $10-17 USD) for a brief three or four hour class. I however managed to attend a real school for which I paid 200,000 for an entire week.

During my week at batik school I made several pieces, including a t-shirt. However the batik process is extremely slow and tedious. It was fun the first couple days. I had hordes of Chinese tourists coming through and taking photos of me like I was some sort of expert or an exhibit in the zoo. I even tried telling them “yeah I’ve only been doing this for a few hours” but they didn’t seem to mind. (I guess the novelty of seeing one lone white guy slaving away amongst a crowd of Indonesians must have had some appeal…)

Batik bule di Jogja (white guy batik in Yogyakarta, Indonesia) Halfway through my first piece of batik art. The video below demonstrates the full process.

Towards the middle of the week I started to grow bored with the slow pace and extensive work required throughout the batik process. And by the last few days I swore “this is it, I’m done!” I knew by the time I finished that sure, batik school was fun and I learned a lot, but this is never something I will ever in my life do again. It is an incredibly slow process and requires vast amounts of effort to become a true “batik master.”

Batik color chart A color mixing chart for batik dyes, which all come in powder form. Some are mixed with hot water and others cold — depending on the desired result. This knowledge is part of what separates batik masters from batik students.


The End Result?

Batik Bule #1

Batik Bule #2

Batik Bule #3

How Batik Art Is Made

Using some of the photos from my week-long class my friend Rahma (check out her travel blog!) compiled this snazzy video, complete with step-by-step instructions and Indonesian gamelan music. Take a look and learn how to make batik!

Have you ever learned a new style of artwork while traveling?

About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

12 thoughts on “The Amazing Batik Art Of Indonesia (And How It’s Made!)”

  1. Very nice Mike i don’t ever remember reading that post. Sounds like fun though 🙂 My only highlight was having hordes of Chinese tourists taking photos of me while I was making my batik, like I was some sort of attraction in a zoo ha

  2. Interesting question; “Have you ever learned a new style of artwork while traveling?

    I’d have some plans to take Thai cooking and Thai Massage course in Thailand. Because I like Thai food and massage , heaven……….
    Anyway, thanks for featuring my new travel blog here. My website is not new, but it’s just dead for a year without any updates and then re-born 😉

    I have to be honest,TheHolidaze has inspired me to redo my travel blog like a pro.

    • Ahhhh yes I love getting massages but am no good at giving one…of course no one wants a Thai massage from a guy. I walk on your back and I’m liable to break it hahaha. But yes I realize your blog is older but it’s easier to just say new than give a whole explanation there. Besides your blog has been re-born so in a way it is new. Happy to have inspired you and thanks again for the help creating such an awesome video!

      • During Massage course, we’ll also get the massage for hours… up to 6 hours, what a life!! & I think I can sell my skill to other travelers, just in case I’ll run out of money. ha ha ha..
        It’s okay.. nice to work with fellow travel blogger 😉

  3. Hi there,
    First if all, great job working in the batik pieces! I never knew it was such a tedious process..

    Secondly, would like to know which school you attended for the batik class, as I’m having a hard time looking for a course that spans beyond 2-3 days.

    • Hey Kania…it was a small place just past the western gates of Kraton, inside of one of the residential blocks right there. Forget the name but it was a small six-student setup with an attached shop. Will try and figure this out and get back to you asap. Are you still in Jogja?

  4. Same here!
    Also would love to know the address and the name of the batik school… Gonna spend almost a month in Indonesia, really wanna learn interesting stuff there. Thanks a lot:)

    • I’m searching, I’m searching! I can find the area on a map but nothing nearby comes up in search results. (Clearly I am not in Jogja at the moment.) Let me contact a couple friends there to see if they can stop by and get a name or addy for me. Will shoot you an email 🙂

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