Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Intrigue of Ikat!

I’d heard of ‘Ikat’ fabric before ((pronounced EE-Kat for those wondering)) but really had no idea how it was made. I soon learned a new reverence for this traditional fabric that is completely woven by hand.
While Batik starts with the fabric, and the design is waxed and dyed to the fabric itself –Ikat starts its life as simple thread.
Plastic bands that resist the dye are tied to the strands of thread in a pattern, and the thread is then dyed….when the bands are removed it leaves white spots where the bands were.
As these threads are then woven, warp and weft together, the patterns are created painstakingly by hand.
I showed a picture of a pieced bag made out of ikat that I brought home with me HERE.
Who would think that lovely designs such as this ---
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Start their life HERE!
I so wanted this old ancient rack with its thread spools to come home with me! Again, this is a NON-ELECTRICAL process. Everything is done by hand. The drawing of the threads from the spool board ---to the mechanism that draws the threads together ---
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And on to this round drum where the threads are rolled, counted and bundled.
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From here, bundles of thread are secured across a frame and tied into a pattern with plastic ties. THIS thread is then dyed, leaving white spots when the bands are removed. If a second or 3rd color is desired, those are painted onto the white areas with liquid dye because it would take too much work to reband the newly dyed areas to over dye the remaining white spots. ((How is this for technical jargon!!))
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This is the weaving factory. It was – as I’ve mentioned before ---a major holiday in Bali, and the workers had gone home. But look at these looms! It’s like a ghost town here – you’d think you were walking into something that had been extinct for a 100 years, and yet, on a normal day, there are artists at these looms creating beautiful textiles by weaving dyed threads. You can see the one design in the front of the photo. Here is another:
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I so would have loved to watch them weaving! The patterns are just beautiful.
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Another shot through the factory.

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A shot of our group wandering between the two sides of the factory. On the left were the weaving looms. The bundling of the threads and first dying was on the right. I loved the pond with fish down the center!

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who says pink and orange do not go together? The flowers in Bali were incredible!

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Wall displays of ikat fabric --- purchase by the meter!

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Ikats stood side by side with Javanese batik. It was a feast for the eyes!


Beautiful jewel tones!

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And always, the ever-present offering!

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This oldie but goodie hadn’t been moved in years – but still the offering is on the hood!

Yes, I’m still over the moon about Bali. With new appreciation for Ikat fabric and all that goes into weaving it. Since then I’ve seen “Printed” Ikat – meaning they've printed the fabric to look like ikat – and you know what? It’s a cheap imitation of the real thing. Nice try, but no dice!

I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing my memories of Bali and the culture as well as the fabrics. It’s been fun to share them with you!


  1. I wouldn't have been keen on buying the batiks, but woohoo for those gorgeous ikats. love that first iron display piece - awesome. too bad the workers weren't there...

  2. Who knew! Thanks for the enlightenment! BEAUTIFUL!!!

  3. I love ikats! Thanks for the beautiful pics of this weaving factory!

  4. I love your posts. They are so varied and I feel enlightened.

  5. Absolutely beautiful.

  6. Ikats normally don't reach out and grab me - too many cheesy 1980's imitations, maybe? - but I now have a new appreciation for the artistry that goes into creating them. Beautiful and enlightening!

  7. Bonnie, I sure have enjoyed what you've shared about your trip and your thoughts about Bali. I know it's extra work, but sounds like it's been a labor of love to share these moments and places with us. Thank you.

  8. Loved it!Glad you were able to get an origainal bag!

  9. What a great education I just got! My folks brought me back some I
    ikats from Thailand... and I had no idea!!! Wonderful!

  10. What a labor intensive art form. There is a skill most of us would never be patient enough to develop in our "instant gratification" society! Gorgeous stuff!!

  11. Thank you for sharing this. I feel like I've traveled with you to Bali and I really appreciate that you've taken the time to send these posts our way. I adore ikats and now I have a greater appreciation for them. I love that loom and the picture with the jewel tone fabrics.

  12. Interesting that in the world of Polish Pottery the word "UNIKAT" is used to signify an artist of superior talent and training who is producing complex and artistic pieces of pottery. Funny how both of these cultures so far apart have words that are virtually identical.

    I learned something today! Thanks Bonnie!

  13. I've seen this fabric before and wondered about it's origins. Thanks for sharing. I've learned a lot about Bali and batiks, etc, from your trip.

  14. Bonnie, I will probably never be able to go to Bali. Even if I could my wheelcair couldn't get into many situations. With your beautiful pictures and the narriation I got to see Bali through your eyes. It has been a real treat traveling with you.
    I just can't wait to see the quilt you make from your batiks. I think you ought to name it "Bali Subrise." Those pictures were so beautiful.

  15. I have enjoyed them so much, Bonnie. Thank you for sharing all this with me.

  16. Linda LaRose7:41 PM EDT

    Thanks for showing us all the amazing nuances of Ikat weaving. You give all your fans a wonderful "trip" to wherever you travel through the blog!

  17. You will love Ireland. wish I could go with you. I can't. sigh.
    Soak it all up. It's the best part of life, travel . people...
    So glad I got to meet you and your Aiken friends. Happy sewing tonight. Goodnight.Xo

  18. Anonymous8:18 AM EDT

    I am living vicariously through your posts and loving every minute of it! It's education and eye candy all at the same time. Thank you!


  19. Beatrice1:42 PM EDT

    thanks for the posts.
    Here a time lapse video about Ikat:


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