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Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Inspiration from Bali....

The offering box outside our room at Desa Seni

Wind Chimes

Desi Seni by night

Street in Ubud

Beaded pots from Ubud

Flower offerings at Desa Seni

The yoga hall at Desa Seni

The view from our veranda

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Paradise found...

And now for the second part of the trip, exploring Bali. Today we arrived in paradise!!! Can't believe it has taken me 36 years to find this place. Staying at Desa Seni (means small village) in Canggu, in the south of the island, but away from all the craziness of the Kuta beach. I think this may be the most perfect hotel we have ever stayed in. Sandwiched between the sea and the rice paddies it comprises of old Indonesian wooden houses scattered around a beautiful garden.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Disaster strikes.....

Today is the final day of the project, it will end with an interview and photo shoot with DEWI magazine, Indonesia's answer to Vogue, a glossy tome dedicated to all things fashionable. They are big supporters of emerging fashion talent in Indonesia and Oscar is one of their favourite rising stars.

As I wake up I notice that something isn't right, my face has a slightly swollen feel and my left eye won't open properly. I have a flashback to a persistent buzzing noise around my head during the night and the slow realisation that the itchy bumps on my face are mosquito bites... ARGHHH!! Today of all days!!!! This is not good, definitely not a good look for a photo shoot. I rush to the bathroom to splash with cold water and then return to bed with a cold compress on my face.

By the time I actually need to get up, my face has deflated a little and I can open my eye, but its still not great. I venture out to meet Oscar at the local shopping mall with heavy make up and dark glasses!

Since my arrival in Jakarta, I had managed to resist the allure of the shopping mall, feeling that I would prefer to spend my time in the antique markets and the old town, but as I spent more time in Jakarta I realised two things. Shopping is a way of life for Indonesians and two, its no funny shopping in the open air, way too hot and sticky. So on my final day, I let Oscar escort me round one of the biggest malls, Grand Indonesia. It was pretty good, they have most major western fashion brands, both high street and designer, but also some quirkier smaller shops and an Indonesian store, Alun Alun dedicated to Indonesian arts and craft, where if I'd have had the space in my luggage for more things, I could have spent quite a bit!

It was then time for the photoshoot, my eye had deflated a little more by now, but was still not great so I asked the makeup guy to do a smokey eye thing, hopefully painting over the puffiness! The stylist thought it would be a good idea have a more stylised shoot, with Oscar and I in more traditional clothing from his collection. The photoshoot posed the usual problems for me, trying not to blink and attempting to smile naturally, not easy things for me, but eventually I think they got their shot!

I then got the text I had been waiting for all husband had arrived!!! We had planned to take a holiday in Bali at the end of my trip as this was a part of the world neither of us had explored before. The original plan had been that I would meet him at the airport this afternoon and fly straight to Bali, but just before I left for Jakarta, Oscar had sent me my itinerary which had me down to attend the Queens birthday party at the Mandarin Oriental hotel tonight. Initially I was very excited, would I get to meet the Queen of indonesia?!! Was there even a Queen of Indonesia?! Either way it sounded glamourous. When I later asked Oscar about this event he informed me it was actually our queen, and the event was hosted by the British ambassador, a far less exciting prospect for me!!!! Anyway, we decided to change our plans and stay another night in Jakarta and Dean, my husband would join us at the party!

In the end it was quite a jolly affair, although after almost 2 weeks of eating yummy Indonesian food, the British themed buffet of sausage, mash and steamed vegetables seemed a little uninspiring and I longed for a bit of spicy peanut sauce. It was however good to meet again some of the people I had met earlier in my trip, especially Ni Luh Sekar, the super glamourous editor of Dewi magazine who gave me a detailed list of places to visit to visit in Bali that you know will be fantastic!

The ambassadors party and not a Ferrero Rocher in sight...

It finished early so we headed back to Oscars mother house, for the last night in Jakarta, will be quite sad to leave this city.....

Saturday, 12 June 2010

My 15 minutes of fame....

Yay, had a wonderful lie in this morning, then the lovely Vicky, Oscars assistant escorted me around a few local shops, Obin for traditional batik with a modern twist and a great bookshop called ak’sa.ra where I stocked up on some books about Jakarta and Bali for my holiday reading (only 2 days to go!)

We then went straight to Oscars boutique where we were due to be interviewed by 2 newspapers, The Jakarta Post, Kompas and also a TV company who were keen to do a feature on our story as a news piece. Oscar very kindly lent me one of his silk jackets for the interview.

Oscar being interviewed for TV, he's much better at it than me

TV crew filming the shop

It all went very smoothly and everyone is very excited and positive about the project, unfortunately I will still be in Indonesia when the interview will be aired on the TV in a couple of days time, my worst nightmare!!! Will have to have a few cocktails before viewing that!! Also quite shocked when one of the reporters says she has been reading my blog, I thought it was only my mum.

We then went straight out to dinner with the guys from the British Council and the Feminina magazine group and also the editor of Dewi magazine, Indonesias answer to Vogue, who will be interviewing us for a feature tomorrow. The discussion at dinner was centred around the issue of how to sustain the Indonesian textile industry and make it more adaptable to the pace of the modern fashion industry. We all agreed that Indonesia does not lack creativity, I have seen some of the most amazingly technical textiles since I have been here but there needs to be a way in which this creativity can be channelled to work in a more commercial way. It was a really interesting discussion and we all agreed to continue it tomorrow when we all go to the British ambassadors party for the Queens birthday!

Last day in Garut….

This was our last day with the Garut mill so spent the morning weaving small trials on the loom that had been set up just for us. Fortunately my new threading plan for the weaver with only 2 feet worked and we started to see some new kind of fabrics. For the moment I was just trying to show Oscar and the mill owner the possibilities once you change the threading of the loom. The jacquard looms will be much better suited to make more experimental fabrics.

It is quite amazing for me to see how what looks like quite a basic operation with mostly home made looms can produce such high quality weaving. The weavers in this mill are mostly local boys in their early twenties that have been trained by the mill owner. As we wandered through the looms we noticed that each loom has been personalised by the weaver with pictures of pop stars and girlfriends, and most importantly a small mirror, as I know its important to look good whilst you weave!

Evidence showing the importance of a positive mental attitude whilst dealing with all those broken threads!

By lunchtime we had managed to weave about 10 small trials of fabric that Oscar seemed very happy with. After lunch we sat down with the weaver to discuss how we would proceed and to explain that I would be sending more designs at the end of the month. What was great about this mill is how open the weaver was to new ideas. He seemed to be a real maverick, having initially started out as a silk producer then moving into weaving as a way of using his yarns. Most of the looms had actually been built by him and he was also the first in the town to use a jacquard loom. He seemed genuinely excited by the project and open to being able to produce new kinds of fabrics.

The beginning of our trials

Discussing the days work...

After lunch he also got out a large selection of fabric pieces that we were able to buy, naturally I couldn’t resist and can now add some beautiful yarn dyed jacquards to my collection.

So we said our goodbyes, loaded up the car with fabric and a good selection of rice crackers, a gift from the mill owners wife and set off back to Jakarta. Looking forward to a more peaceful nights sleep, could hear only the faintest murmur of Reggy and her husband Nicks home karaoke machine as I drifted off to sleep.

No sleep and a room upgrade...

It turned out the gap in the window thing was quite a problem as we were right by the main road on a Saturday night, a constant stream of revving motor bikes. At 3am when the noise from the bikes started to fade it was time for the local mosque to start its call for prayer which was luckily on a very loud speaker for the whole village to hear,this was also accompanied by the horses getting ready for their days work pulling the taxis, not a great nights sleep. We all agreed that we couldn’t cope with another night of this. I started dreaming of the resorts down the road, but it was not to be, the hotel agreed to move us to a bigger room further from the road instead and much to my delight my hole in the floor toilet/shower got upgraded to an almost proper toilet, although still in the shower!!

This is the view from our room, much better than the view of our room!

Despite the lack of sleep had a productive day mostly spent planning the designs for the next day as the looms were still being set up. The mill owner also brought out his collection of fabrics for us to look at. He makes some really beautiful things. They are all of a similar quality, but he has a great sense of colour and proportion. I have high hopes for our developments, although it will be another day before we see anything. We are working on one dobby loom with 6 shafts and also a jacquard loom. I have decided to wait until I get home to make the jacquard designs. Due to the fact that everything is designed on paper here it would take at least a day to plot out 1 design. On my computer at home i can make at least 10 designs in a day, so we decide that this is a more productive use of my time.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Road trip to Garut.....

Up early again this morning, heading to Garut by car. Now I understand why we have to leave early, it should be a 3 hour trip but if you leave too late with the Jakarta traffic that will be doubled. Oscar arrived at 7 to pick me up, complete with pillows for the back seat and a box of jam sandwiches, (feel like a kid again) so with the best of Frank Sinatra playing on the stereo we set off….

Road trip...

Once out of Jakarta the scenery was fantastic, lots of misty mountains and rice paddies, slightly scary driving, but if you focus on the view its fine.

Garut is a small spa town, just south of Bandung. Oscar already works with this weaving company in Garut, they specialise in silk and the fabrics are hand woven, but on proper looms and they also have jacquard. He thought there would be more scope for development than with the hand made looms that the ikats are woven on. I had no idea what to expect so was very excited.

Finally arrived just before lunch and went straight to the weaving shed, as I wanted to check out what the looms were like. Was quite scary when I realised that the jacquards still use the punch card system and the dobby looms are operated by peddles and only have six shafts, had a minor panic as I have no idea how to do the punch card thing and six shafts are really limiting in terms of the designs you can do! We then had a meeting with the owner and after a few homemade rice cakes I started to figure out what I could actually do here. They were willing to thread up a new loom for us, as they can do this in a day so managed to work out a drafting plan for the six shaft loom to enable us to make some new qualities.

The weaving shed

To my horror just after they had started threading I realised that the plan I had given them would require the weaver to have 3 feet to be able to peddle it! I’m sure there are some people with 3 feet somewhere that could do this for us, but not in this town!!! Managed to get my technical head on and reconfigure the plan for 2 feet, am really hoping I got it right as the technicians are staying late tonight to get it ready for weaving tomorrow.

We then went out for lunch. Thankfully the first option given to us by the mill owner was rejected by Oscar, was very happy about this as it was one of those restaurants where you look in the window and immediately lose your appetite. The second option was much better. Looked like an Indonesian Nandos from the oustside but as you walked in was actually more like an open air Buddha Bar and the view from the other side was of the mountain and paddy fields, quite surreal. The weaver also spins his own silk and over the meal was telling us about the first batch of silk worms that he had, they are apparently very delicate creatures, more demanding than a baby, he said. Just as the first group had grown fat on the mulberry leaves and were almost ready to make the silk it was New Years Eve and the noise of the fireworks stressed them out so much that they all died. He has now moved them to the mountain where they are much happier and not disturbed by the noise!

View from the restaurant

After lunch, as we had to wait for the loom to be threaded, you’ve guessed it, we hit the shops. Java is the area for Batik, so am now I have moved on from ikats and am starting my collection of batik fabrics. Garut is also the centre for leather in Java. Was hoping to find myself a bargain handbag or some leather sandals, you know the ones you always want to find abroad, really simple brown leather, cost about £2, but only ever see in Selfridges for £300! Nope they don’t do them here either, all very basic stuff.
Oscar bought a leather cap and his assistant some sandals though.

Leather shop in Garut, personally can't look at leather headwear without thinking Blue Oyster bar, Oscar managed to pull it off though!

Garut by night

Fruit shopping

Then it was time to head to the hotel. We had no idea where we were staying as the mill owner had booked it. I got quite excited as we drove up the hill past some very cool looking resort hotels but sadly this is not where they were taking us. Our destination was the altogether more basic Hotel Cipaganti, and no its not on Tablet! The best thing it has going for it is that its clean. We all had a giggling fit when we saw the bathroom. I can only think it was designed for the time-poor Indonesians who spend half their life in traffic. It’s the first time I have seen a toilet in the shower!

Once alone I managed to negotiate the bathroom, actually not so bad, as this is a spa town at least the water was hot , I then decided that I should secure the room from mosquitos , they have taken a real liking to me on this trip and am fed up with trying not to scratch. Unfortunately none of the windows close to provide a natural air conditioning, so am writing this lying on my bed swaddled in a blanket, choking on the citronella that I have drenched the mattress and pillow in, oh and watching Indonesia’s got talent where it looks like a half man, half woman named Hudson is going to win!!