We’re getting down to the wire; just two weeks until we go back to the US for over a month! But that’s not stopping us from working in some last minute travel. We first heard of Troso when we went to Jepara in January. The small village is just south of Jepara and is known for it’s production of woven fabrics. The main street was lined with stores full of gorgeous, colorful ikat and songket textiles, but we wanted to go deeper than just shopping. I had recently connected with an ikat seller on Instagram and asked if we could visit their studio. They were gracious enough to oblige us and that’s how we came to meet Mario and his uncle, Pak Aman.
We followed Mario down a dirt road just past their impressive neighborhood mosque. Connected to Pak Aman’s home is a small, covered, outdoor workshop set up with multiple looms. He gave a detailed, step-by-step lesson on the dying and weaving process, starting with mapping out the initial design with ink to wrapping the threads tightly with plastic as to resist the dye.
The plastic bindings create intricate patterns, then the threads are removed from the frames to be dyed. We were impressed with Pak Aman’s extensive knowledge of each motif and where it originated, whether it was from Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi or Sumatra. Pak Aman’s family has been weaving for five generations, so he’s had many years to soak up knowledge of dying and weaving.
The home’s kitchen floor served as the spooling area with a machine that spins the dyed and dried thread onto spools, then they’re loaded onto the looms. There were more looms than I anticipated, probably a dozen between the two studio rooms he showed us, but with each piece taking a month to complete you have to have quite a few irons in the fire so to speak.
Mario was nice enough to let me have a go at the loom, I would definitely need a few lessons before I felt comfortable at the helm. Joel was actually the more natural weaver which was a pleasant surprise.
With so many amazing patterns it was hard to pick just a few to bring home. Even though I couldn’t take them all, my ikat stash is getting pretty extensive (photo on the right below). It’s a good thing we’re moving next week and I’ll have lots of home goods needs so I can start putting these beauties to work.