I had seen the locals wearing the batik shirts with their wild patterns and designs. Nearly every vendor was selling them in the night markets. I still wasn’t sure what the hype was all about, but Gabby really wanted to check out the Batik Factory in Penang, and in the end, as usual, I’m so glad we did.
On our first visit to the Craft Batik Factory Penang, we took a free short tour through the covered outdoor factory with one of the staff. She took us from station to station as the artists were working on their pieces. She explained each step of the process so we could really appreciate what we were seeing.
We learned so much and were so inspired by the process that we decided to book a batik painting class where we were able to hand paint our own batik designs. Finally, we splurged and bought a bunch of gifts for friends and family from their awesome shop.
WHAT IS BATIK?
Batik is a fabric printing style popular in Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, China, and even some parts of Africa. Intricate patterns are applied to fabric with liquid wax, either by hand or with a wax dipped stamp. After the fabric is dyed, the waxed areas will resist the dye. Once the wax is boiled out it will leave behind the un-dyed pattern where the wax once was.
The first time we learned about Batik was from a beach vendor in Indonesia. His paintings were beautiful (and we did buy 2 of them) but, I loved the design on his shirt and asked him where he got it. He explained to me that it was hand painted batik. When he told me he made it himself I was surprised, but when he told me it was over 12 years old I was shocked. It looked brand new. From that day forward, Gabby was obsessed with the idea of taking a batik making class.
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WHAT MAKES MALAYSIAN BATIK UNIQUE?
Batik processes can be found in many parts of Asia and Africa, but Malaysian batik has a style of its own. Most batik styles use repeating patterns and neutral earthy tones. Malaysian Batik is known for its bright, vibrant colors, and large flowing designs. You’ll often see images of leaves, flowers, butterflies, or fish. After applying the wax design, Malaysian batik painters hand paint the individual sections creating a brilliant effect similar to stained glass.
WHERE IS THE PENANG BATIK FACTORY?
Craft Batik, Mk2, 651, Teluk Bahang, 11050, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Craft Batik is located in the village of Teluk Bahang, just past Batu Ferringhi to the West, and about 18km from Georgetown. Follow the main highway 6 to the north out of Georgetown.
A grab car from Georgetown should cost you about 25-30RM or about $6-7 USD.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO VISIT THE CRAFT BATIK FACTORY?
Visiting the Batik Factory in Penang is free, but should you feel the urge to buy some items or book a batik making class the prices can climb.
For reference, here are the approximate prices of the things we bought:
Batik Fish (~$15 USD)
Batik Shorts (~$25 – 30 USD)
Batik Dress (~$50 USD)
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE PENANG BATIK FACTORY
You can spend 15 minutes to a few hours at Craft Batik depending on your level of interest. On our first visit we were probably there for 20 minutes just walking through and seeing the artists at work. On our second visit we took a class and did some shopping so we spent about 3 hours total.
We loved seeing the artists at work and asking them questions. Our tour guide, Mary was so knowledgeable and really took the time to explain everything so we could understand each step. Watching the artists work was so relaxing and mesmerizing. We could have stood there all day just watching the way they use the water to blend colors and spread the dye along the fabric.
Most of the work done at Craft Batik is hand painted silk, however the stamped batik designs are very interesting as well. Mary showed us the different stamps that they use, and the effects they can create by doing multiple dyes, or wrinkling the fabric to create more textured patterns.
If you have the time, I would highly recommend taking the batik painting class offered by Craft Batik. It gave us a deeper appreciation of this delicate artform. We painted handkerchiefs which we gave to our mothers as gifts when we returned home.
For the class, you’re provided with a hand drawn design in wax. Ours were of fish and flowers. Then you’ll do the painting yourself with a little assistance. At first it can be difficult to get the color blending technique, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll love it!
Once you’re done with your painting, be sure to check out the Craft Batik gift shop to browse their various products. Our family and friends loved the gifts we bought for them here. I bought some batik outfits for my young nephews, we picked up a few batik fish for family, and Gabby bought a new dress to bring with us to Mexico! She was even able to have the dress cut and altered right in the shop at no extra charge.
All in all we had a wonderful experience at the Craft Batik Factory in Penang. The staff were so friendly and knowledgeable, the artists were so talented, and the atmosphere was so peaceful in the workshop. We loved it there and can’t wait to visit again on our next trip to Penang.
Visit the Craft Batik Factory Website for more information: http://www.penangbatik.com.my