We just returned from our adventurous Asia Artisan Trip! It was an incredible journey, and I've asked Constance Dykhuizen, our new Asia Production Coordinator, to share about our time in Malaysia. Constance will be based in Thailand with her husband later this year, acting as our point person to help support all our Asia partnerships. We're lucky to have such a talented (and funny) lady on our side. Enjoy her blog on some of the artisans in Malaysia:
Aziz Awang, or "pink house guy" as he is affectionately referred to, is a true artist. Just arriving at his (you guessed it) pink house, painted coconuts hang from the trees and cages of birds chirp their greetings. Everything is a display: antlers used to display swords, birds made out of coconut husks a mannequin in full regalia.
When he was a boy, he played with his friends among the rubber trees. Their clothes would get caught and the leaves would stain. Eventually, they started to use the leaves to color more of the shirt so it wouldn't look accidental. He continued dying cottons and silks in shibori style (attributed to 8th century Japanese technique) and has become a true master.
The Malaysian government invited the Raven + Lily team to visit batik and dye artisans on the east coast for a day. Batik is a technique of using wax-resist dyeing to create patterns. Wax is applied to the cloth, either with blocks or by hand, then dyes are painted on and then the cloth is boiled and the wax comes off. There is such artistry to be found, but access to markets and design has been a challenge.
We spent a morning being hosted by Aziz's family in their pink house and got the opportunity to see him and his wife at work at their dye baths. Hospitality is highly regarded in Malaysia and it was an honor to be welcomed in their home. Our trip these last two weeks to visit Asian artisans allowed us to see the traditional techniques firsthand and partner together on designs that create employment on one end and beautiful, handmade clothing on the other. You can look forward to some inspired designs soon!