April 18, 2017

Behind the scenes

Batik Books Statement
Wearing 'Stille Kracht' shirt by Verloren Woorden & Batik Tulis by Ibu Ramini, Jeruk

Time for a little update from behind the scenes. I'm writing a lot actually, but not for this blog. I'm writing for two other pages and I hope I can share more about it soon...! I made this Batik Statement inspired by last few weeks. I love diving in my books and I had to show off my new shirt I got from Koen: A 'Stille Kracht' shirt! How cool! Spotted a lady in this shirt during an event at the Rijksmuseum. I saw her outside waiting for the tram and complimented her on her so-cool-shirt. She said: "I found it online". We had such a nice talk in the tram about educating yourself on history, especially on colonial history. 
Next to writing and reading, I visited a ton of great events and exhibitions already. It is Leiden Asia Year, ModeMuze is organising great talks and the whole Museum World decided to focus on colonial history this year; Rijksmuseum, Nationaal Archief, Museum voor Volkenkunde, Fries Museum, Maritiem Museum Rotterdam and more coming. So every opportunity I have, I try to go to openings, events, lectures, talks and exhibitions. I learned so much in short time about our colonial history already and I'm very thankful this information is now (partly) available for the public!

Marco photographing one of the Batiks

I'm working on my 'journey to Batik'. Last year when I returned from Java I had to focus on my friends and family. Now I'm getting back on track getting everything I made into shape. The shape of a book and film(s). 
Marco Maas, a friend photographer, helped me to get 30 Batiks documented for the book. During this year I hope to finish my book about the Batiks I gathered during my two journey on Java, about the makers including articles by other Batik lovers. 

Still from 'The journey to Batik'

During my last journey I filmed. I'm editing the first film with a leading role for Tari Batik, the Batik Dance, capturing how creativity comes to life through the hands of Batik makers.
Hope to find a nice spot to screen the film! And if you are interested in the film or know a good location to screen, please let me know!

This Friday 21 of April my blog is 8 years old, so lets celebrate! It is also Kartini day and Batik Friday, so share those 'Batik Statements' online with me! Use #BatikStatement and /or #8yearsTJTB. Thanks!

April 14, 2017

Batik Statement: First Pattern Edition

With this blogpost I'm starting a new series of 'statements' in which I try to explain the meaning of a pattern or motif. During my journey on Java last year, I noticed that every dot or line on a Batik has a name. Sometimes the Batik as a whole represents something, but also every individual detail has its own name and meaning. To learn a little more about Batiks and their story I thought it would be nice to capture their meaning in 'Batik Statements'. 

We start with 'Parang'. There are different 'Parang' motifs but they look very similar. It is a repeating pattern, traditionally in brown, black (blue) on white, that goes diagonal over the cloth. The white forms a wavy line framed by dots and separated by diamond shapes in between.
The name 'Parang' comes from a type of machete or knife. The white waves on the cloth are build up by S shapes. A 'Parang' knife is shaped in the same way. 
The special thing about 'Parang' is that this pattern was a long time exclusive for royality. For instance, the Parang Rusak (‘broken knife’) motif could only be wornu by those in the Yogyakarta Kraton (the Court), the royal family. Today 'Parang' is probably the most famous Batik motif from Indonesia and a very popular one. My dear friend Denny Antyo is a big fan of 'Parang'. It is actually the only motif he wears. He gave me a funny gift which inspired me to make this statement: Parang motif cleansing nose strips! The other inspiration came from the online queens I follow. Not royalty, but the lovely ladies doing drag. So by honouring these queens I unintentionally made the first 'statement' that explains a motif!

"Sometimes I wish I was a fashion blogger, instead of a...is there a title for a Batik loving, history digging, art making Blogger? It took me quite a lot of time making these pictures and I think I'll stick to my kind of blogging, but I really liked making this post!" 
                                                                                                                            -14 April 2012

Five years ago on this day, I posted my first 'Batik Statements'. The photos I made were a tribute to fashionbloggers, but were also a kind of joke. I made the photos in and around the house, trying to get the bloggerfeel of pretending to be a model in a homely setting.

I had no idea people would like it so much. I got a lot of feedback, which after my first journey to Java hardly happend. I started asking people to share their 'Batik Statements'. I called them that, because I wanted people to make a statement of wearing Batik. I started receiving 'statements' by email and through Facebook. In 2012 I not only made my first 'Batik Statements', I made also new ones for the Batik Day, Hari Batik, contest on 2 October 2012. Later that year I held a 'Batik Statement PhotoShoot' at animal park Taman Indonesia.

Now five years later, I can't believe all the things that followed. I received dozens of 'statements', I made two fashion shows, gave presentations, made live 'statements' and even online tutorials. And last year I actually went as a blogger to the Jakarta FashionWeek 2017!!

To celebrate this 5th anniversary I'm actually making a little booklet! In the booklet will be all my 'Batik Statements' from 2012 - 2016. It will be limited edition!!
Pre-order your copy at sabine{at}sabinebolk.nl and you will receive first option to buy it!

March 1, 2017

Textile Manufacturing

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Factory set up in the exhibition 'Vlisco 1:1 Un Γ  Un' at Museum Helmond*****

Waking up with a buzzed feeling from yesterday, images of bright colours spinning around in factories inspired me to write this post. I have actually no time for it now, but I just have to share it. So it will be short.
The images that woke me up so inspired are by photographer Christopher Payne. They show worn down machines being taken over by bright coloured dust, yarns, threads and cloths. Beautiful and for me shocking at once. Our never stopping need for producing new clothing. An industry why things as fashionblogs and their bloggers, catwalks, malls, models and a never stopping pile of waste exist.  The photos show also a different story. The one of the growing interest in where are stuff is coming from. And specifically with clothing and their textiles where and how it is made.

Photos from 'Textiles' by Christopher Payne*

It reminded me of a recent photoshoot I spotted on Instagram. I missed the fashion show and I had not heard of her before, but now she is definitely here: Liselore Frowijn.*** A Dutch fashion designer who collaborated with Vlisco for her latest collection and in the proces collaborated her way through the launch of this collection. Teeth grinding good and it makes me feel old, haha. Anyway, for the photoshoot of her collection she worked with visual artist Olya Oleinic. She took photos in the Vlisco factory and that was for me a nice surprise. Vlisco is very secretive about their factory and normally no photos are allowed. Okay, the gritty photos maybe don't reveal much of new collections, but still.

‘In bringing the factory to the runway, my team and I feel more responsible about our client. We have never felt so connected to the shifting needs and expectations of today’s consumer’
- Liselore Frowijn

In Museum Helmond is now a (small) overview exhibition about Vlisco. Next week is the last week already. They show the history of Vlisco, how it is made (see Boomerang at the beginning of this post) and how it is used. It is a bright feast of patterns and gives a nice introduction on Wax prints. 
I really loved the entrance set-up that was made like a machine and showed with videoprojections how a Vlisco fabric is born. A unique inside considering normally no photos or films are made. # The exhibition is till 12 March so make sure to visit it!

Limited edition Vlisco Wax Print to celebrate 170 years Vlisco

I like to end this post with the upcoming Fashion Revolution Week, 24 until 30 April 2017.  I think it is great we get more inside in what happens in Western textile factories and more fashionlabels follow a more sustainable path. But we still have a long way to go, so think about #whomadeyourclothes and how you wish your cloths were made or how you are going to make them.
And I hope this post inspires you to do so!

More info on:

* and photos of Christopher Payne's Textiles on www.chrispaynephoto.com

** 'A mesmerizing look inside Americas textile factories and mills' Article about Christopher Payne's photo serie

*** 'Liselore Frowijn presents #TheNewCluster in collaboration with Vlisco'

****'See now, buy now' #TheNewCluster online

*****'Vlisco 1:1 Un Γ  Un' exhibition in Museum Helmond

# 'The best kind of prize is a *sur*prise!'  Blogpost about my visit to the Vlisco factory 

February 27, 2017

Let Me Introduce Panivalkova

Apparently their video already went viral last November, but I just seen it now. I'm not soon captivated by something that fast. I do like and share a lot of things perhaps on my social media, but to consider it for a blogpost is something different.
When I saw the video 'Let me' by Panivalkova, I was struck by their modern yet totally classic interpretation on traditional costumes from East Europe. I also was surprised to find out this lovely, strong women are from Ukraine. Not really a place right now where you expect this kind of news to come from.
After looking at more video's, I came to to conclusion these ladies have an interesting taste, humor and are really beautiful without tapping on all kinds of 'western' beauty standards. The fact that a video goes viral with them in traditional wear, is for me a way our world is also heading. The one where more people are interesting in different cultures, the one where people are looking for a better way of sharing this planet.
Of course their wonderful headwraps play in with the popularity of their video. Wrapped in layers of colourful textiles that are slowly been removed through out the video without making making it sexual, but making them fragile and strong. The song itself is lyric-wise simple, but I suspect this ladies to have stronger opinions then their first English hit leads on.

A post shared by panivalkova (@panivalkova) on

Looking forward to see, hear and know more about them!

Read a little more about them in 'Panivalkova is rising star in Ukraine’s underground music'

February 15, 2017

Kwatta Girl

Batik Statement Stage

Banners with my 'We Can Do It'-Statement

During the Culture Night on 27 January 2017 in Breda (NL) I made live Batik Statements*. I did projects with my Batik Statements before, fashionshows and photoshoots**, but I never created them on stage.
I was invited for this event with the title 'Colourful Women Power'. The event organised by IDFX used one of my Batik Statements for their communication. My 'We Can Do It' Statement*** was on flyers, posters and even on banners at the door. Strange and complimentary to see a photo of yourself used to make a statement again.
The event was to show different crafts done by women that were a bit out of the box. There was a lady making jewellery from bones, ladies who brew their own beer named "pussybeer" ("Kutbier" in Dutch) or with chocolate flavor and ladies making soap from leather.
Next to the newer crafts, there was also a more historical view of women on the labor market. This was were my statements came in.
With two different 'performances' I showed life of the factory girls from the chocolate factory Kwatta (in Breda, NL). These girls that were the first women in the Netherlands to start working in factories around 1920s.
This is seen today as an empowering event, but was at that time seen in a different light. A priest started an organisation run by women to help factory girls. These 'catechists' were mostly young women who wanted to help from a Catholic ideology without becoming an actual nun. The 'catechists' went to factories to teach the girls Catholic values by combining it with practical knowledge. They used the girls break-time, which the girls would normally skip because you got paid by piece and not by the hour. In the break-time they teach table manners and later the 'catechist' gave all sorts of courses learning meanly to run a household. The factory girls maybe didn't need protection or being saved, but the 'catechists' were in a way empowering themselves. They could teach, work in society, be part of it, instead of the monastic lifestyle that would have been the normal path for them.
I was lucky to have the wonderful Steph Byrne as my model. She bravely ate sandwiches with chocolate spread in front of a crowd with knife and fork. Together we showed factory life vs running a household in an ironic iron loop.
It was a lovely experience and happy to share it here with you, enjoy the photos!

#foodie is the new prayer


Assembly line****


* See more 'Batik Statements
** I did two 'Batik Statement Fashionshows', one in 2013 and one in 2015 and  two 'Batik Statement Photoshoots'
*** My birthday BatikDay Statement 'We Can Do It!' from 2015 
**** Photos made by Surya de Wit, thanks!

January 24, 2017

Before Chicken*

Because I missed writing my "traditional" end of the year reflection post or the beginning of the year welcome post, I'm returning with a new post with a little later New Year. Welcome to the year of the Rooster, or is it going to be the year of the Cock....?
Last Chinese zodiac was a Monkey and in many ways it was a monkey year. Lets hope this years Zodiac represents more a wake up call then a headless Chicken year. That's how I try to see it at least. A Rooster waking use up at Sun rise and not one pecking at its harem.

Chicken on Batik from Madura, Indonesia, I bought in November 2016

Last year ended with a lot of grief. Knowing that good has to come with the bad, I had the feeling that losing my feathered friend would be enough pain for one year.**
Returning home from my three month journey on Java, there was little time to reflect or write, nor plan. I just got a package with the final piece of my journey to Batik. It was such a relief finally holding this Batik and also a sign for me that my project will be allright. I have plenty of time to make it and to make it gooooood. That is the most important thing.

Chicken on Batik from Batang by Mak Sium I bought in October 2016

According to the Chinese calendar, the year 2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster. The Chinese people say that this year people will be more polite and less stubborn, but they will have the tendency to complicate things. As Asian people see it, the year 2017 is a year dominated by the orientation towards progress, honor and maximum integrity, people learning to temper their ardor.***
Keep in mind that the passed Monkey year started also with a positive notion. I believe the year of the Rooster, or better Chicken****, can be the year where action is taken. Not by voting or protesting, but by looking at yourself and see what positive changes you can make in your daily life. This sounds vague maybe, but in a time were people think choosing the loudest person the represent them, I think it is very important to look at one's surrounding and see how to change it for themselves. This maybe sounds like individualistic behaviour, but I believe that living life as best as possible is a good inspiration.

Chicken on Batik from Jeruk by Ibu Maryati I bought in October 2016

Side note: I'm aware of the bubble I live in. I created my surroundings.
I'm not confronted with Wilders supporters nor any other extremist on a daily basis. Only through my left newspaper or through Facebook friends I hide instead of de-friend. I'm surprised that today in a world were everyone can be connected, we choose the make it smaller. I was surprised when I discovered there are people who don't believe in Climate Change and they can even live in the apartment above you. I'm surprised my parents read the most right wing newspaper of the Netherlands (I read the most left one I think...). I'm surprised to be asked here where I come from and then to be considered very Western abroad. I'm surprised about a lot of things, but mostly about how little people really take action and how many just share opinions, or follow someone who just shares his opinions.
So by taking action, I mean changing behaviour in your own life that has a positive influence on your surroundings. If you think you still have a positive influence by insulting people, making waste and being a cock then be my guest. If you have other ideas, please share them in a comment below and inspire others to do the same. Let's learn from the Rooster and start with a wake up call. If this for you is living a zero trash lifestyle, cool. If it is greeting everyone "Good morning", great. If it is getting up early and do some exercise, bravo. If it is supporting Arts, Crafts or Nature or just enjoying it, good for you! What ever it is, make sure that in times of need, need of love, trust, caring, you are there for the people around you. A good life is not a selfish life, and a good life is not al fun and rainbows.
Love to hear what you are up to this New Year and hope to see you again on my blog!

* 'Before Chicken' is part of an anecdote, which for me is part of a wonderful memory of my journey to Batik and is about trying to communicate what you want when you don't have the right words to do it with
** Post about 'My journey to Batik'  and missing Batik, my gelatik
*** Text from www.chinesehoroscope-2017.com
**** The Chinese word for Rooster can better be translated as the more neutral 'fowl'. In Nepal the Zodiac of the fowl is replaced with a bird
***** Blogpost 'The chicken and the egg' about the meaning of chickens on textiles

December 1, 2016

Power post

Writing this while looking at my packed bag, sitting in the room that was my temporary home for 3 months. I can't believe how fast the time went and how many great experiences I had. My journey is not yet finished, but leaving this place tomorrow feels like a kind of ending. I waited so long to make this journey. I wished for so many things, but could not ever have imagined it would be like this. My journey to Batik was and is a journey of friends. Seeing friends again after so many years, sharing my experiences with friends overseas and missing. Missing people I just met, just saw or that I will never see again.
The last two weeks of my journey started with very sad news while I was seeing a very dear friend after 7 long years. There was more unhappy news from back home, so having at the same time these wonderful reunions made it tough sometimes. Still without all these dear people here it would have been a very different story. A what a story it is! I still have much to share and haven't shared here about Jember or Semarang yet, but I need some time to let it all sink in. And I'm still on Java!
I want to thank with this post all people that helped me during this journey. I feel so lucky meeting and knowing you! With this post I don't want to say "Good bye", but I like to say "See you soon" instead.
I also want to thank the people back home. Thanks for all the likes and comments. Thanks for following my journey! And keep following it!

After my return from Jember, I needed strength. I decided to make 'Batik Statements' representing some of my Super heroes. No not actual Super heroes. Although I still plan to make a statement with a cape one day, but I can not create more ghost stories in this village while I'm here... (Ask me about it when you see me).

Everyone needs a hero sometimes and "these" three ladies helped me many times through difficult times. So I hope they can do the same for my friends.
With their spirit and their Art they taught me about feeling pain, sadness and unhappiness. Taught me about empowerment, equality and love. And they taught me about sharing it.
I hope my heroes can give a little strength to the ones who need it right now!