Didn’t someone say the journey is the destination? Well, we don’t expect to reach the destination anytime soon, but we're sure enjoying the ride.
When we set out on our latest journey to find inspiration in textiles and sustainability in Indonesia, we had nothing but our backpacks, smart phones (unapologetic millennials), and one contact in the country who worked in garments. Over the next 5 months we worked out of cafes, visited countless factories, met scores of artisans making magic patterns, and followed more than a few dirt roads that were very long and winding paths to nowhere. Here are some snapshots from the dusty trail – be sure to check out our Indo-inspired, eco-friendly and ethically made 'Dreamweaver' collection on Kickstarter November 1st!
Our co-founder Eric had been to Sumatra many years before, and told tall tales of amazing weaving on an island in the middle of an ancient volcanic crater lake (he tells a lot of tall tales). After an 18-hour bus ride, a two-hour wait at the terminal and a half-hour ferry to the island, we arrived at the amazing Samosir island. We asked around about the ceremonial “Ulo cloth” that the local Batak people are famous for, hopped on some rented mopeds and drove to a remote place called Lumban Suhi-Suhi. Lined with traditional hand-carved and painted wood homes, the women of this village have been weaving Ulo cloths for more than 150 years. 100% worth getting lost for!
Bali is a relatively small island if you look at distances in kilometres – but that’s a fools game. Winding roads, loads of hills and traffic on the road means that you’re not getting anywhere fast. Yana and Eric travelled up and down the east coast of the island to visit three weaving villages – Sideman, Tenganan, and Seraya. Specializing in Songket, double Ikat and rangrang textiles, these villages are all treasure troves of pattern. Even on dirt roads, in the rainy season, when google maps keeps leading you to chicken farms (that actually happened twice), these are all must-visit locations.
When we needed to meet with some fabric mills on the island of Java, we jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the wax resist ‘batik’ dyeing in the historic city of Solo. Seeing women sitting outside their homes using what looks like a little pen to draw patterns on fabrics with hot wax was surreal. Another method of batik is done with a copper stamp, as you can see below. We fell so much in love with this technique that we created the Amalia top in our premium line, which features hand-made batik fabric from Bali.
When it’s Monday, and you just can’t seem to catch a break, AND your goat just refuses to cross the road. Oh, the things we come across on our travels.
Our travels across Indonesia were not without their mishaps. We were once in a van on a 6-hour drive to Medan in Sumatra when the driver underestimated the space between him and the car in front (luckily no one was hurt!). We waited next to the seemingly endless palm oil plantations for an hour before our driver stuffed us on to a public bus.
And to finish things up – here is a cute little Batak girl with her puppy. Because, well, we love puppies and you probably do too.
For more pictures of our adventures and mishaps follow us on Instagram @TAMGADesigns.