For the last ten or so summers I have been lucky enough to be a part of a backyard batik workshop facilitated by Laura. This was hosted by an artist friend and included many creative women happy to either learn about the process for the first time or to expand their growing expertise. I appreciated how Laura shared her extensive knowledge in a way that made this complex dying process accessible to all. I enjoyed this afternoon so much that I invited Laura to share her love of Batik with my fourth-grade class as an extension of a Social Studies unit on Indonesia. Amazing and fun for my students!
Laura’s exclamations of “Oh Happy Day!” upon viewing her students’ vibrantly batiked fabrics is contagious. It is so evident that, even with many years of teaching the craft, her joy at what her students’ produce each time is genuine. After introductions and sharing the background of her travels and life in Bali, Laura guides the process of painting (or pressing objects) into a beeswax resist. The waxed fabric is then dipped into a vat of color. This happens several times as layers of multiple colors crackle and dye the fabric. Laura obviously loves what she does and so generously shares her wisdom and technique!
I have been taking part in Laura Cohn’s Batik Workshop every summer for about 17 years. I fell in love with the process after the first workshop – Laura is an exciting and knowledgeable instructor. Each year she has created a workshop that is tailor made for my group of artist friends. It is an amazing art form and magical process that I have yet to get tired of.
Laura’s batik family workshop was absolutely fantastic. We learned about batik, Indonesia, and the wonderful surprises that can come when making “mistakes,” all while enjoying family time and fellowship with two other families, creating art together in the outdoors! My children were 5 and 7 at the time and look back on that summer with fond memories. The workshop’s flexible timing worked so well with our summer schedule, and we created as a family that we will treasure for years to come. Laura is so warm and inviting – she has a wonderful way with children as well as adults, creating a meaningful, creative experience!
Laura’s understanding of and passion for Indonesian art, culture, and customs deepened our modern culture study tenfold. The children were captivated not only by her lessons on language, cooking, dress, music, art, geography, and cultural norms, but also by her clear love for this very special archipelago. She offered the children hands-on experiences with a culture that would otherwise be accessible to them only through the pages of books. Much of what she shared with the children had a lasting impression. A whole year later, they still talk about Indonesia and feel proud of what they have learned about it.
I just passed a 4th grader this morning who greeted me with your greeting “selamat pagi” from Indonesia – this after a long summer. I find myself looking more carefully at news from Indonesia, and have a different perspective on reports now that I have worked with you.
Working with Laura was the highlight of our school year! She took our culture study of Indonesia to a deeper, more meaningful place. Laura’s love of Indonesia is infectious, she found ways to share her knowledge of art, language, geography, religion, and cultural traditions in ways that kept every child engaged. As they developed understandings and respect for Indonesian culture, the students also came to understand own culture more deeply. Parents were thrilled with the learning that happened (and the fun).
From Benjamin (age 9)
It’s fun to do experiments that are unpredictable.
From Isaiah (age 6)
It is fun, creative and it is cool to use everyday things to make one thing.
It is wonderful to have an opportunity for families to work together creatively where everyone’s contribution is equally valued. Laura’s emphasis is clearly on process not product—but the products are pretty amazing also!
From Hayim (age 11)
I started batik when I was seven, in third grade. I took a course with Laura at the Main Line Art Center. I am now eleven, and have been taking batik for four years, mostly in the summer. A couple of years ago my brother joined me in batik and between the two of us and my mother, we have made close to one hundred squares. There is something satisfying about standing in Laura’s garage and dripping hot wax on squares of cloth. Then comes the dying, where you see your work transformed, and then you get to take it home and make a bread cover, pillowcase, and so on.
From Rive (age 7)
I’ve done Laura’s batik workshop three times and every time it was very fun! It’s fun to mess around with all the different tools and paint with hot wax, and Laura lets you experiment and doesn’t have a lot of rules about how art is supposed to look.
My week spent immersed in your batik workshop last summer with my teenage daughter was a fantastic experience that I will cherish for a long time. Your workshop afforded me the opportunity to tap back into my creative self and reconnect with my daughter, all at the same time. Neither of us had any prior experience with batik, but we felt completely comfortable exploring the techniques you so patiently taught us. We also enjoyed getting to know more about the culture of Indonesia, and the history behind the craft.
I loved standing at the tables trying out the different tools, watching children of all ages experimenting freely, and later observing the magic of the interaction of color and pattern in the sample cloths as they immerged from the dye baths. We plan to make a quilt with the squares of cloth that we designed in the workshop, and look forward to coming back again next summer. Many thanks!
From Lila (age 14)
I really enjoyed the batik workshop that my mom and I attended this summer. I’d never batiked before and wasn’t even quite sure what it was but it came very easily because you taught it in a very understandable manner. I liked the feeling of your studio, the music… the incense… it made it almost feel like we were in Indonesia. It’s so simple and enjoyable that the people in our workshop… aged 3 to 50… all loved it. It was nice to be able to participate in all the stages of making our batik square (waxing, washing, rinsing, denumbling, drying, adding a second layer…) as to understand fully how the process works. And instead of just batiking all one color we got to use many, many colors allowing us to be very creative. Also I liked that we weren’t limited to just one tool. No one square looks the same. I would definitely come to your workshop again.